The Independents in the University Council
Employee party the Independents is committed to representing the interests of all support and scientific staff of the university in the University Council. Fraction chair Mirjam Siesling: 'We are going to make an extra effort for PhD students. They experience a lot of work pressure and do not seem to dare to choose a participatory role.' The elaboration of the new Strategic Plan is also an important topic in the coming council period.
Talk with your co-workers, not just with managers
By mid-March, the party had not found a PhD student willing to stand for an electable position. 'While you receive compensation for your time,' Mirjam notes. 'They find it too time-consuming or don't feel supported by supervisors. We find that worrying. As a party, we are doing everything we can to keep this group in our sights.'
Mirjam is program manager at MindLabs and is going for a fourth term in the University Council. Geert-Jan Peters is in second place and is Director of Professional Education at Jheronimus Academy for Data Science (JADS) in 's-Hertogenbosch.
Contributing to development of the university
Fractie Onafhankelijken is one of the two employee parties in the University Council. Mirjam: 'It is good for representation that there are two parties. We have a broad constituency of different nationalities, with both academic and support staff, and PhD students.'
Geert-Jan wants to continue to make a substantial contribution to the development of the university through his council membership. 'I see many opportunities, for example in the theme of 'lifelong learning' and in the connection between the university and the outside world. As a member of the University Council, you are close to the Executive Board (EB). We try to move forward together.' In addition, he finds gaining board experience a great personal development.
Realistic estimation of resources and people
One of the most important topics in the University Council in the past year and a half has been the new strategy for 2023-2027. Mirjam: "The Executive Board has opted for a rolling strategy. There is currently a plan in outline, and it will soon become clear when the concrete sub-plans will be presented to the council for approval.
We have indicated that we want to see a realistic estimate of financial and human resources for each sub-plan.' 'I think this period in which the new strategy is taking shape is the best period to be in the council,' adds Geert-Jan. 'As a party we are always positively critical and sometimes firmly critical. We represent the interests of employees but do it for the total university community. That playing field is very interesting.'
What does it mean for the work floor?
Workload is an ongoing concern for the Independents. 'The COVID pandemic caused more pressure on our staff,' says Mirjam. 'For each proposal of the Board we ask whether the consequences for the work floor have been calculated.' An example: working with student assistants. 'This seems to reduce the workload, but lecturers say that the supervision costs them more time than the use of the assistant gives them. We therefore advise: talk to teachers, not to the managers of the teachers.'
The party is pleased with the action that the Executive Board has taken in the area of social safety, such as appointing an ombudsperson. Mirjam: 'Our constituency indicated a need for action in inclusion. We will continue to argue for this in the University Council. We see that the Board is struggling with it, and we also find it difficult to find the right approach, but it is necessary. The Executive Board would do well to keep their ear to the ground with employees and with fellow universities.