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Student Members discuss Faculty Council: You get to know the organisation from a different perspective

What does a student member of the Faculty Council do? What is it like to be a member of this representative body and how useful is it to be a member? Students Rassoul Coelen (FC 2020-2021 and presently member of the University Council) and Max Garcia Hoogland (FR 2021-2022) talk to us about their experiences. Garcia Hoogland: ‘You gain insight in how decisions are made and see matters from a different perspective.’

The Faculty Council (FC) at FGGA consists of two echelons: staff members and students: four employees and four student members. The FC has the right to approve and advise on important ongoing issues within the Faculty, such as the budget and the Course and Examination Regulations (OER). You are elected as a representative for both students and staff and act as a sounding board for the board. The council has a meeting with the board every six weeks. Students are member for one year, employees are elected for two years.

Max Garcia Hoogland

To be involved in a different way

After completing the bachelor International Relations and Organisations and the master Public Administration, Max Garcia Hoogland (23) is now enrolled in the master Crises and Security Management (CSM). It is his first time being on the Faculty Council. He is a member of the LSP (Liberal Student Party) and wanted to be involved at the Faculty in a different way then ‘just as a student’. ‘I wanted to represent students with everything that is happening in and around Wijnhaven and that’s possible as member of the Faculty Council. You’re not only seeing things from a student perspective but also from the teachers and staff. You’re much more involved with the decisions that are being made and that certainly appeals to me.’

Rassoul Coelen (22) was a member of the FGGA Faculty Council in the year before Max. This academic year, Coelen made the transition to the University Council and is a member of the LVS (party for progressive students). ‘As the only FGGA student,’ he says with a smile on his face. Besides his master International Relations he is currently also enrolled in the master at Public Administration. During his bachelor Public Administration he was a member of his fraternity’s evaluation committee and noticed that ‘there was a lot of room for improvement’. ‘I had an opinion on everything and realised things could be handled differently. So I was looking for an institution where your voice was actually being heard. With that in mind, I decided to put myself up for the Faculty Council.’

Rassoul Coelen

Things are a lot more complex than you might think

Both Garcia Hoogland and Coelen both say that their FC membership has helped them to have a more of things that are taking place at the Faculty. Coelen: ‘As student, you really have no idea of what’s really happening behind the scenes. I know now that there’s a lot more going on and that there are a lot of different interests involved. Both for students and staff. An example: when I got into the Faculty Council I believed that classes that were recorded should be published online straightaway. Why not? We have the means and we’re living in the 21st century, that was my way of thinking. But it’s more complicated than I first thought. There’s also another side to things. There are teachers who object to their classes are being posted online and class rooms have been emptier than ever since the web lectures have been made available.’

For students it takes some getting used to at first. Garcia Hoogland: ‘All of a sudden, you’re having to deal with issues and dossiers you know nothing about. So it takes some getting used to. Especially during these times of corona the handover wasn’t very extensive.’ Coelen adds: ‘: You’re stepping onto a moving train. That train just keeps on going and you’ve got to hold on. That’s definitely a challenge when you’re new.’

Quality over Quantity

According to Garcia Hoogland you can recognise this Faculty Council by the following action points: always put quality over quantity and emphasis on wellbeing for students, and teachers, and staff. Garcia Hoogland: ‘We’re looking at the growth of FGGA and the resulting consequences. Our guiding directive is to always place quality over quantity and to look out for the unforeseen negative consequences of that growth such as the lack of study space at Wijnhaven. Our goal is to always put issues regarding wellbeing and social safety at the top of the agenda. Among staff, the Personnel Monitor is used to gauge opinions, but we also want to look at these issues among students.’

Have a finger on the pulse

Both men would strongly advice their fellow students to run for the FC. Coelen: ‘Especially when you think your interests aren’t being represented properly, you should do it. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll get to know the organisation from a different perspective. As a member of the University Council, I’m faced with a completely different set of deliberations. Because here, you have to act in the best interests of the entire university. Not simply consider what’s best for similar units within the same faculty but quite the reverse: try to consider what’s best for organizational units that are complete opposites. I believe that students are definitely being heard. What we say really matters, we have our finger on the pulse, we know what’s going on and the board is definitely aware of that.’

Garcia Hoogland has come to see that the communication towards students is far more important than he always thought. ‘Only think of the commotion surrounding the cameras that were installed. Feedback should be provided to the students, that provision of information is very important. I want to make sure that when it comes to these matters we, as Faculty Council, remain visible. Students and staff can always contact us via faculteitsraad@fgga.leidenuniv.nl.

Text: Margriet van der Zee

More on the Faculty Council

After the University Council, the Faculty Council is the second highest staff and student body at the University. It acts as an intermediary between the various departments of a faculty. The Faculty Council has the right to approve and advise on various matters concerning the faculty. It also represents students and staff and is a sounding board for the Faculty Board.

Faculty Councils
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