Medical students will finally have second option in elections

Students at the medical faculty will this month for the first time be able to choose which party will represent them on the education and research council: De Vrije Student (DVS), or the Central Medical Student party (CMS), which until now was the sole student party on the council.

If DVS is elected to the council, which is the faculty council for medical sciences, this could disrupt the ratio in the council. 

University elections

From May 16 through May 20, the university elections will take place. This year only the student section of both the university council and each faculty council will be re-elected. This also means that only students will be voting this year.

During the week of the election, all students will receive a call to vote by email. In that email, students can use a link to the voting portal, which they can only access if they first log in through their university account. In the voting portal they can elect both a candidate for the university council and a candidate for their respective faculty council.

The results of the elections will follow on Monday, May 23.

CMS only allows students on the council who’ve specifically applied for it. As such, each programme would be represented by at least one student. This also meant the medical master students and scholarship PhDs were represented.

DSV, which used to have ties to the VVD, only has medical students on the election list. However, party leader Marnix Kuper doesn’t think this will cause any issues. ‘That doesn’t mean we won’t also focus on the other programmes. We represent all students.

Own programme

CMS party leader Lisa van Dolder disagrees. According to her, students are best suited to make decisions about their own programmes. She thinks students having to apply for a position is a good system. ‘That way, we can make sure to pick the right person for the job.’

‘I don’t think that’s the right way to go about student representation’, says Kuper. He’d prefer that students can elect someone who shares their ideas. 

Van Dolder isn’t convinced. She’s all in favour of democracy, she says, and it’s simply the way things are done, but ‘I’m not sure we should politicise education’, she says.

Bigger turnout

Kuper also thinks DVS’ inclusion on the council would improve election turnout. ‘Especially last year, the turnout was much lower than at other faculties.’ Most students aren’t even familiar with the E&R council, he says. ‘That means the students’ interests actually aren’t represented.’ 

There were elections last year as well, but because of the pandemic, De Vrije Student felt it was a bit too early and withdrew. This year, they hope to win ‘one or two seats’, says Kuper.

The E&R council was created after the faculty merged with the UMCG. This meant personnel matters now fell under the purview of the employees council. The E&R council consists of seven students and eight staff members.

Election themes

DVS’ favourite topic, flexible studying – in which students only pay for the courses they’re taking instead of an entire programme – would be perfectly applicable to movement sciences, says Kuper. But not to medicine or dentistry, as those programmes are too practical.

Kuper would also like the faculty council to start discussing issues again, such as communication with students, or whether students might learn better from books that include both English and the Latin medical terms, making them ‘a better match to the Dutch medical landscape’.

Roos Duijn acknowledges the council doesn’t currently engage in much discussion. She chairs ProMove, the interest group for students of movement sciences. Most discussions are held by programme committees (PCs) or any of the many other bodies at the faculty. 

The dentistry PC discussed the new curriculum at length a few years ago, says Duijn. That’s not a topic the E&R council can discuss. ‘Because this faculty is so big, it can be difficult to get something done on a faculty level when it only concerns a single programme.’

Changed list

CMS has taken the newcomer’s inclusion into account in its election list. Medical students are only in fifth and sixth place on CMS’ election list. 

Van Dolder, who studies movement sciences, is number one. Numbers two and three are a dentistry student and a scholarship PhD. That means students from those groups will almost certainly be represented.

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