Meet Faculty Council member Sonia Leffel: ‘We are here for you.’
The Faculty Council is the main consultation and advisory body within the Faculty of Archaeology. Three students and three staff members together represent the Faculty community, advising the board, as well as taking the initiative to put things on the agenda. We speak with council member, and bachelor's student, Sonia Leffel.
Sonia's drive to join the Faculty Council was two-fold. ‘The first reason is that I want people like me to be represented in the council. I am a non-binary international student, as well as a member of a religious minority. Secondly, students sometimes have the feeling that nothing is being done about their complaints. As part of the council, I might be able to help with that.’
The council has been in effect since September 2023, so everything is still quite new. The first meeting with the Faculty Board was mid-October. ‘The meeting went pretty well, I think. There was a two-way discussion, and it seems like they take our suggestions seriously.’ Meanwhile, the Faculty Council has their own separate meetings. ‘I'm meeting with co-council member Letty ten Harkel regularly, for we share the education portfolio between us. We are very much on the same page with everything.’ Each Faculty Council member has their own portfolio. ‘We have this division of labour in the council: communications, education, etc. Nobody is doing everything.’
Asked what the Faculty Council is currently working on, Sonia notes that the student's fieldwork experience is high on the priority list. ‘Recently the Faculty Board presented a new code of conduct, and this partly fueled the discussion. We want to help students if they encounter something that goes wrong, especially during fieldwork projects organised by third parties, where there is less control by our own Faculty.’ The Faculty Board feels the same way about this priority, so Board and Council work on this together.
Naturally, a part of the Faculty Council's agenda is determined by the Faculty's business operations. ‘We started off the year with a discussion of the Faculty's finances, something the Faculty Council has right of consent on. This was really weird for me, because I do not look at budget outlines ever. A lot of numbers, and everything in Dutch. Luckily we have someone on the council who was a member last year as well: Jesse Kuijt. He already had experience with this topic.’
Last but not least, the Faculty Council represents the students and staff members of the Faculty. ‘So please consider this a call: if anybody has negative experiences they want to share about their fieldwork, either contact Maaike de Waal, or, if you rather talk to one of us, please contact us. We will keep this confidential,’ Sonia emphasises. ‘We are here for you.’