The elections are coming up and FPN is not exempt from this process, with students and staff heading to the polls (from the comfort of their desk chairs) between the 17th and 20th of May. FPN students are eligible to vote for the University Council and the FPN Faculty Council. These councils both allow for student representation in decision making here at the University Maastricht (UM). The FPN Faculty Council is made up of 10 seats and whose members are elected by three bodies, with the academic staff electing 4 representatives, the administrative staff electing 1, and the students electing the remaining 5. Student representatives will serve a one year term, while staff representatives serve a two year term. What do they do? Good question.
FPN is organised into two main decision making bodies. The first being the Faculty Board, who are the primary administrative body and which is chaired by the Dean Prof. Dr. Harald Merckelbach. The Board is responsible for organising and administering the education and research at FPN. The second being the Faculty Council, which nominates the student advisor who sits in on Board meetings. The Council as a whole also provides advice and addresses proposals by the Board. It can block amendments to some important documents, including but not limited to exam regulations. Arguably, the council’s largest role is advocating for students and watching out for student interests.
So now that you have a basic overview of what you’re voting for, here are your options:
List 1 - SHAPE
List 1, is SHAPE, this party founded in 2018 with seats in FHML and FPN, which now works closely with the student association Ouranos and the LEX party from the faculty of Law. SHAPE currently holds 3 out of 5 seats and this year it only has one candidate on their FPN list who is running for reelection, which means that they will definitely lose 2 seats. In their manifesto SHAPE split their positions into 4 parts: The post covid-19 era, community feeling, improving education, and healthy studying. The first one is an emphasis on the faculty to clearly communicate what the future study environment will be like, to allow students to plan ahead. Also vowing to promote a more hybrid learning environment if online learning is still necessary, while advocating for more learning spaces. Secondly, promoting a community feeling that would be done through social events, the organisations of student-teacher meetings and increased transparency of decision making. Thirdly, improving education they vow to be active advisers to the board while also advocating for lecture recordings and the implementation of a post exam reflection week. Finally, healthy studying. This is a catch all term where they promise to advocate for exams to be distributed throughout the period, personalised mental health support, sustainability awareness, their support for a smoke free campus, healthy food, and the promotion of physical activity.
List 2 - NovUM
List 2, is NovUM, which despite the name is one of the older parties which has had a presence at UM since 2003. It holds seats in the University Council, FASoS, FHML, FPN, FSE, and LAW, this year again fielding many candidates. At FPN NovUM currently holds 1 seat, and is fielding 4 candidates in this election of which one is running for reelection. NovUM has many slogans and promises in their social media posts. In their FPN manifesto NovUM has a wide range of issues they list off, splitting into three parts: academics, well being, and sustainability. In the realm of academics NovUM wants feedback after every paper, defined release dates for grades, more diversity in the authors in the readings, and to address the fall in participation due to the online environment. They also seek an explanatory lecture to explain and detail the purpose of the portfolio. Additionally, if online learning persists they promote the idea of “get to know '' sessions and want to scrap pre-recorded lectures in favour of live ones. In order to promote well being NovUM wants to advocate for exams and resits to be scheduled apart and for less time consuming online exams. Also, they wish to organise training sessions to learn how to deal with anxiety and float the idea of parole groups and forums to let people talk about their issues. Finally, regarding sustainability they wish to put posters above bins to remind people where their plastic trash goes and wish to implement a discount system for eateries if people bring their own containers.
List 3 - KAN
List 3, KAN is the youngest party on the ballot, being founded in 2019 as a coalition of different organisations here in Maastricht. This however has not stopped KAN from making gains, currently holding seats in the University Council, FASoS, and FSE. For the first time they will be running candidates at FPN, fielding three candidates.
KAN focused primarily on the climate crisis holding UM to better standards when it comes to the universities actions in reducing its carbon footprint and using its position as a learning and research institute to help in the fight against climate change. Unlike the other parties there is little focus on specific goals in the Faculty, rather in KAN’s manifesto they outline 6 guiding pillars that guide the party and it’s members at all levels. These pillars are: Collaboration, social responsibility, education for the future, transparency, diversity and inclusivity, and university life and well being. Under each Pillar however they also outline concrete goals which they would like to attain on a UM wide level. For example under the education for the future pillar they wish to integrate climate justice and biodiversity loss into the curriculum. Under diversity and inclusivity that all UM facilities should be accessible to students with disabilities. And a final example under social responsibility that UM should make structural reforms to include sustainability on every level of decision making and ensure that there is concrete action to reduce UM’s own carbon footprint.
List 4 - MSRP DOPE
List 4, DOPE is the oldest party with it’s 30s soon in sight, holding seats in all Faculties and the University Council. With one seat at FPN, DOPE are fielding two new candidates this year. It is also a party with close ties to the fraternities and sororities here in Maastricht.
DOPE is an established voice, which makes educational quality, technological support, good facilities, and better integration of international students its key issues. As of writing, the FPN manifesto has not been updated or uploaded to their election section of their website and is instead only available on the UM election website. On there they list off a set of policy goals, with most of the points being focused on education. Their first point is that they want experienced tutors in every course, and for that matter to ensure that there are tutors for every course. Secondly, they emphasise the importance of up to date course manuals and literature. Thirdly, they advocate for the creation of purely Dutch tracks to help Dutch students who struggle with English. With the fourth and fifth points being tighter scrutiny of the faculty budget and keeping recorded lectures even after the pandemic is over. Aside from this, DOPE states that the faculty needs to take responsibility for students' mental health and well being and provide support. Also, wishing to organise career days to help prepare for post-university life. And finally, they wish to make student voices heard in the Faculty Council as they view this as the best way to get things done.
That’s all folks, you can read more about the parties, the election, and student politics in our university section. Make sure you vote between the 17th and the 20th of May!