What are your needs as a student? Do you need assistance in your schoolwork, career orientation, finding a place to live, or are you just trying to be a more engaged student? Well, fortunately, the 2020-21 FSR-FMG council will be able to assist in all of these things. In previous articles we covered what the council does, their campaign, and what a day in the life of a council member looks like. However, this piece would like to focus on the newly elected council members, their objectives, how they plan on achieving them, and how you can also take part in making meaningful changes in order to improve your faculty.
Who is in this year’s council?
Firstly, this year the council consists of four parties: UvASociaal, 020, DVS and Inter. Although these parties slightly differ in nature and objectives, they all have the same goal of improving the faculty. The council members as listed below hope to be able to work together and combine their effort to voice your concerns about your experience as a student.
Pedro Gonzalez – Chair
Pablo Mustienes – Vice Chair
Lieve Bastiaan – Secretary
Ruben de Groot – Education and Communication Committee Chair
Emilie van der Heijden – Organization and Finance Committee Chair
Kaleem Ullah – Delegate to the Central Student Council
Robin Hellmich – Treasurer
Siddharth Jethwani – General Council Member
Joshua Meijer – General Council Member
Viktoriia Akhankova – Council Assistant
Joselyn Arevalo – Council Assistant
Johanna Lehr – Council Assistant
What are the council’s objectives for the year?
[The council] would focus on diversity, housing, mental health, digitization, career orientation and student engagement.
A council with no plan would be detrimental to the student experience and the faculty. Thankfully, this year’s council led by Pedro Gonzalez (chair) and Pablo Mustienes (vice-chair) have already started devising their policy plan which will be released in the coming month. After an interview with the council members, they pointed out that their plan would focus on diversity, housing, mental health, digitization, career orientation and student engagement.
Out of these goals, student engagement is found to be a priority for this year’s council. Their agenda aims to help create an environment for students where they feel comfortable, welcomed, and engaged in sharing their thoughts and concerns as well as establishing a bonding place for students to connect digitally. In these difficult covid-times, digital connection is the only resort for many of our students.
In similar efforts, the council also plans on focusing on the digitization of the student experience. With students spending a large portion of their time in front of screens instead of in classrooms it’s crucial that their online learning environment be equivalent to if not better than the in-class environment. For example, the events that unraveled last week indicate that the digital exam experience has many flaws and is completely burdened by technical difficulties. Proctorio – the digital proctoring system chosen by the UvA is a long way from a solution to improving the online learning experience of students. Thankfully, the council seeks to find different solutions to prevent these technical issues from hindering graduates’ learning and satisfaction with their study programme.
Other issues of interest to the council include students’ experience outside of school when it comes to career orientation and internships. The council seeks to reform the Student Career Center in means of establishing relationships with students that go beyond simple contact when it comes to finding internships. They aim to start helping students with their overall career goals and help them not only find internships but also guide them through the application process.
Moreover, the limited housing in Amsterdam makes it very difficult for students to find good and affordable living around the city. Thus, FSR-FMG has promised to dedicate a large portion of their time to finding different housing opportunities for students. As well as, finding more study spaces other than those in UvA libraries. However, they will only be focusing on this once the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted and they receive more information on housing:
The last objective for this year’s council is to improve inclusivity at the UvA. The members see it as their responsibility to ensure everyone is treated equally and has equal opportunities. More importantly, they are focusing on the accessibility to mental health assistance as well as the prevention of sexual harassment and similar discriminatory acts. Lastly, they would like to ensure the diversity of the student population and increase the visibility of the underrepresented communities of Amsterdam.
How can YOU help? What can YOU do?
If you have any concerns about your experience at the UvA or in your faculty, then you can reach out to the council through their social media or by email. The council aims to collect as much information as possible from students prior to their faculty administration meeting. Once they are at the meetings they are able to voice all your concerns and consult the administration in problem-solving. The council is especially interested in the opinions and points of view from the first-year students, seen as you are the first ones to ever experience the start of your studies in a pandemic setting.
Cover: Younes Skalli, courtesy of FSR-FMG