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Op-ed: UC has been working towards a better student-staff ration for years

In a recent op-ed, Mariano Méndez claims the university council only cares about the student-staff ratio during elections. In an open letter to Méndez, Rozemarijn Gierkink with Lijst Calimero says this criticism is unwarranted.

Dear professor Méndez,

My name is Rozemarijn. I represent Lijst Calimero on the university council. We’ve met before at council meetings, among other places.

Today, I was shocked to read your opinion piece ‘Don’t only ask for advice during elections’ in UKrant concerning the increasingly unbalanced student-staff ratio, an issue that, as you pointed out, concerns everyone. A well-balanced student-staff ratio is crucial for educational quality. It’s not just good for small-scale education, but also benefits student and staff well-being.

Lijst Calimero was founded on the principal of improving the quality of education, which includes the student-staff ratio. It’s our whole reason for being. That is why we’ve been closely involved in the implementation of the Quality Agreements since the start of the process. We’re also closely involved in WOinActie and we seize every opportunity to rise up against the university’s exponential growth, which is one of the biggest threats to a balanced student-staff ratio.

In 2017, Lijst Calimero also worked together with the Personnel faction and DAG to successfully demand that the UG board of directors allocate five million euros a year to the efforts to decrease the student-staff ratio. It is never enough, but we, as well as the staff delegates, are doing everything in our power to solve this problem.

I was somewhat surprised to read your statement that ‘over the past six years, no member of the faculty council has ever been approached by any member of the university council regarding this problem’. The Personnel and Science factions only add to their own work stress by spending every single day trying to improve the student-staff ratio at your faculty.

Of course, you could take the initiative yourself and approach them. Besides, freeing up millions of euros to combat work stress is an incredible feat which cannot be ignored.

Your only proof that no one on the university council has approached any faculty council members to discuss the issue in meetings over the past six years is that ‘this topic was never on the agenda’.

Freeing up millions of euros to combat work stress is an incredible feat which cannot be ignored

I would like to advise you to take a closer look at the invitations to these meetings, since all participants are allowed to submit their talking points beforehand. Additionally, the student-staff ratio was extensively discussed as part of the section on the Quality Agreements during the council meeting on October 22. Work stress has repeatedly been a topic of discussion over the past few years. It’s unclear to me, therefore, what you base your argument on.

I’m even more surprised that a faculty council member, a fellow advisor, would attack the university council like this, during the elections of all times. Advisory body members share the same goal: to represent the students and staff of our university to the best of our ability, and to improve the quality of education at our university.

It is crucial that the university council and various faculty councils work together, since it’s impossible for us to know everything that’s going on at all times. We also don’t have the solution to every problem; we can only influence the board of directors so much.

By saying that we’re not doing our jobs when you yourself have made no attempt to come to us or start a discussion, you’re undermining this partnership. I would therefore like to invite you to drop by and discuss the issues your faculty faces with my successor, and to attend a university meeting or two.

Best wishes,

Rozemarijn Gierkink, faction chair Lijst Calimero

Also signed by Casper Dam (Lijst Calimero party leader), Dinie Bouwman (chair of the Personnel Faction) and Kristina Linke (chair of the Science Faction).

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