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Impacting policy through the Faculty Council Archaeology: ‘we are working on the wellbeing of students’

The Faculty Council is the most important co-participatory body of the Faculty of Archaeology. Its members represent staff and students in meetings with the Faculty Board, and they can have a profound impact on the Faculty's policies. We speak with the council's chair, Merlijn Veltman, about the goals and projects the group is working on.

Merlijn Veltman: ' ‘Personally, I genuinely want to help out in improving the Faculty.'

External fieldwork projects

At the onset of the academic year the Faculty Council decided to work on one central project to influence Faculty policy. ‘The student members came up with the idea to work on the wellbeing of students who go on external fieldwork projects,’ Merlijn Veltman explains. ‘You cannot oblige other universities to work according to our Code of Conduct, but we can be critical if these are projects that we advertise to our students as a Faculty.’

To reach their goals, the Faculty Council joint forces with Vice-Dean Alex Geurds as well as with staff from the Field Research Education Centre. ‘A new signaling system is being implemented, with a form. The idea is that students are asked to fill out an evaluation form afterwards, not focusing on the educational value, but on the health and safety aspects of the fieldwork project.’ These evaluations will give insights into the development of projects over time. ‘Thus we can signal if things go structurally wrong. This is not meant to prohibit students to go, but to better prepare them. We hope that this will make for a better experience, and that it makes it easier for students to (anonymously) report any issues.’

Policy changes

Aside from bringing in initiatives of their own, the Faculty Council also has a strong influence on the policies proposed by the Faculty Board. ‘We react a lot to policy changes that are related to staff. For example the new CAO and the effects of this on the teaching possibilities of PhD’s and PostDocs. We signaled potential problems arising from the new CAO on career developments of early career researchers, and are now working with the Board to address these issues.’ Moreover, the Faculty Council actually has right of consent on some important recurring agenda items. ‘Like in regard to the OER (Education and Examination Regulations). In most other cases we have advisory rights, which is really taken seriously by the Faculty Board.’

Helping out

So why would someone join the Faculty Council? ‘Personally, I genuinely want to help out in improving the Faculty. Moreover, you do get a lot of experience with matters of policy, this I find interesting as well. It is also very nice to be interacting with the student members of the Faculty Council, you get to know the Faculty much better.’


Timewise, as the chair of the council, Veltman spends one day a week on the council work. ‘Being the chair, I do a bit more work, like creating meeting overviews and having separate meetings with Dean Jan Kolen and Board Secretary Johan Verweij to set agendas. But as a council, we really are a team. We do this together. I really want to state that it is very important to participate in the Faculty Elections that will take place in the week of April 22nd. Make sure to vote for your favorite representative in the Faculty Council!’

For the upcoming elections, only the student candidates can be voted for.

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