With a voter turnout of 23,120%, last year’s faculty elections seemed to go by unnoticed. This was not only the case for the Faculty of Arts and Social sciences, but also for the other faculties.They all suffered from a low turnout which varied between 12% (SBE) and 32% (FSE). The absence of substantial student participation in the elections might give the impression that the faculty councils do not matter, but that is absolutely not the case. FASoS’ Faculty Council, which consists of equally five students and five staff-members, has considerable rights and influence. It can give the Board advice on all important matters and has, most significantly, the power to make amendments to faculty and examination regulations (UM Administrative and Management Regulations).
Last academic year, the student parties DOPE (1 seat), NovUM (1 seat), USM (2 seats) and KAN (1 seat) were elected (Election Results 2019-2020). This year, once again, FASoS students may decide which parties hold on to their seat, gain one or - in the most unfortunate case - lose one. The various parties differ in focus, priorities, experience and expertise. So, reasons enough to lose a nihilistic stance on the upcoming elections, to go vote and care about the results.
As a start, we have outlined the main priorities of the various parties for you.
List 1 - MSRP DOPE
DOPE has put forward three candidates for the FASoS’ faculty elections. Ana Vodnik, Eveline Bood and Caitlin Reed all aim to win a seat in the council. Their ideas are perfectly aligned to DOPE's general vision for UM’s future and revolve mainly around one theme: education. At FASoS, DOPE wants to improve communication between staff and students, especially with respect to curriculum changes. Besides, it wants to enhance the accessibility of course readings (which is usually considered to be a disaster at FASoS) by making all of them available online. As an expected result of the pandemic, the candidates advocate for a more active UM regarding student well-being. According to their viewpoints, mentors and psychologists have to be easily approachable.
You can read our interview with Rozemarijn Kahle, public relations manager of the party, for a general impression of DOPE’s party vision.
List 2 - KAN Party
With 7 candidates on its election list, KAN has assembled a great number of enthusiastic students who are willing to advocate for - what they call - climate justice as well as inclusivity in the faculty council. The KAN party - which is a coalition of environmental organisations in Maastricht - wants to make a serious change. But concretely, what are they planning to do?
Most of the candidates have only outlined abstract ideals without proposing any concrete initiatives so far. They emphasize the need for "a socially conscious, inclusive and sustainable community" at FASoS, as Nele Adolphsen puts it, but forget to answer how. Charlotte Lenhard and Hannah Wagner (respectively number 5 and 6 on the list), in contrast, shine a light on what KAN is - concretely - capable of. In their election statement, they describe KAN’s contributions to the faculty sustainability platform and the UM Climate Letter; clear attempts to create environmental awareness among students, collect ideas and initiatives and align faculty policies with sustainability. A green agenda, that’s for sure!
A few months ago, the MD interviewed KAN and got to know the party. Want to read our conversation? Click here!
List 3 - United Students of Maastricht (USM)
When USM was founded by Moritz Takacs, his initial mission was to internationalize the various councils which, back then, consisted primarily of Dutch students. He succeeded. With 2 representatives in the Faculty Council, USM was FASoS’ largest political group last year. This time, the party has 9 international candidates who are running for a seat in the Faculty and University Council.
USM's general election programme is built around themes like internationalisation, student well-being and sustainability. Nonetheless, it’s recommendable to check out the individual candidates, since their ideas vary from topic to solution. While Diego Leon advocates for a better relationship between students and representatives, Sofie Lange and Claudia Falchi Delgado aim to enhance students’ mental health by relieving financial and study-related stress. Luis Stahnke, Jan Kieras Echevarria and Nyah Costa, on their turn, highlight the importance of a stronger, safer and more inclusive UM community. Enhancing sustainability is emphasized by Paul Bochert, while the improvement of skill courses has caught Arina Brazhnikova’s attention. One conclusion can be drawn: there lies a considerable range of interests within the party.
Not enough? One of our writers, Paula Cepeda Gallo, sat down with founder Moritz Takacs and discussed the party’s origins, its rise and main focus.
List 4 - NovUM
Maastricht’s self-proclaimed most progressive party, NovUM, has “left-leaning” ideals and teamed up with the pan-European party VOLT this year. At every level of decision-making, from the European parliament to the local authorities, VOLT aims to be involved. That’s why 7 so-called ‘Volters’ decided to join NovUM for the upcoming University council elections.
For FASoS, NovUM has written a manifesto which reflects the progressive nature of the party. When elected, the representative(s) want to enhance sustainability by making lectures on the topic mandatory and regular. In last week's debate, however, NovUM president Charles de Groot contradicted this idea by arguing that sustainability shouldn’t be a mandatory part of the curriculum but rather a part of the mentoring program. Besides a green University, NovUM aims to improve student support systems by - for example - assigning buddys. Among other things, the students advocate for free period products at UM which are supposed to tackle gender-based discrimination. On educational note, the party demands extension of deadlines and resits as well as reflection weeks for students after exams.
Continue your research with our introductory NovUM interview that can be read on the website.
So, have you made up your mind? Cast your vote.