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SBE students want an extra seat in council

The functioning of the Faculty Council of the School of Business and Economics should be improved. This was a proposal of students and employees in the last meeting. The students want an extra seat to better represent their constituency.

A memo by the Dope delegation argues that five student seats do not fairly represent the almost 4000 SBE students. At the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the same number of seats represents 1714 students; the council of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences consists of nine students, for a total population of 3731 students. Because of the official parity principle, an extra student seat would also mean an extra one for the staff. But whether this seat would be occupied remains an open question, since at the recent elections, only three SBE academic staff and no support staff were eligible.

There’s more. The memo calls for a democratically elected council chair who is not part of the board – for some years, Jos Lemmink has been dean and council chair at the same time. “An independent chair would make different choices when sensitive topics are at stake”, says Karel van Eechoud, student member of the SBE council and one of the initiators of the memo. “When there is lack of consensus, he or she might decide more often for a discussion and a vote among the members. An independent chair is just part of professionalising the right to have a say. It’s not a personal critique at the performance of our dean.”

Lemmink: “Concerning the chair, the council has decided to elect the next one democratically. So anyone, in or outside the council, can apply for it. In the first meeting after summer we’ll vote. Still, I might be a candidate as well. The rules allow for it.” 

Not only the students but also the employees have pointed out room for improvement. Researcher Simon de Beausart suggests that the board should make better use of the expertise of the council members, who best know the sentiments and opinions among the personnel and students. As a consequence, the members (who should continue to control the board as well), feel heard and contribute more to the policy. A side effect, according to Beausart, might be that the faculty personnel will be more motivated to run for future council elections.

 

Maurice Timmermans

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