Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
Of course! My name is Denise. In 2021 I graduated from my bachelor in Econometrics and Operations Research after which I decided to do a board year at our lovely association Kraket, where I was the secretary and marketing officer of the 50th board of Kraket. During this year I didn't study, except for the one course I took. During my board year I found out I am a more practical and less theoretical person than I thought and I also decided to do a different master than econometrics. So currently I am doing a master in Economics with a specialization in public policy. Next to my studies, I am the chairwoman of the FSR.
What does the FSR do?
As a student council we are the voice of the students. We bring our student perspective to meetings with several parties within and outside the faculty. We have the legal right to give our opinion to the faculty board within our joint meetings. But we are also in contact with other parties of the faculty and we are always willing to help them by for example brainstorming on topics or doing our best to make as many people fill out the National Student Survey (NSE) which is a very important survey for the university. We also receive complaints from students which we try to solve.
Why did you decide to join the FSR?
Last year, I think I dedicated about 90% of my time as a board member of our lovely association. I really loved being busy with it and I knew I needed something else to keep me busy when my time as a board member would end. When I found out the student council was looking for applicants, I decided to apply. I really liked the idea of being the voice of the students and thought this would be my next challenge. With my experience at Kraket, I also had the ambition to become a chairperson. Not because this is the function that suits me best, but because I thought it would be the function where I could learn from the most. Which in retrospect I was right about. Every day, I learn something new.
What are your tasks within the FSR?
As the chairwoman I lead the council. My tasks include preparing and leading the meetings, writing a policy plan and having contact with several parties such as the faculty board, study associations and other councils. Currently, I am also working on a transition plan to make it easier for the next council to learn about their roles. Next to our "normal" functions such as chairman, secretary, treasurer etc, we work with so called portfolios. Our portfolios are: blended learning, well-being, internationalization, sustainability, visibility, education and career integration. We divided these portfolios among the seven of us and I work for the visibility, sustainability and blended learning portfolios. As a chair I also supervise the other portfolios.
Who are you in contact with the most?
We have contact with many people. Within the faculty this could for example be the faculty board (including our student assessor), the academic advisors or SBE Career Services. But also the study associations Aureus and Kraket are very important to us.
We also have a lot of contact with people from outside the faculty. Once every six weeks there is a meeting with the University Student Council (USR) and the other FSRs to discuss the topics we are all busy with. Here we look into the challenges all councils are facing and see if we can come up with solutions together. Additionally, it is an opportunity to learn from other faculties. Some faculty could excel at a certain theme, while another faculty could excel at another theme. Combining our knowledge could help us to further improve life at university.
You can also think of other parties such as the Green Office or Student Wellbeing Point. With the Green Office we are looking into options of making the faculty/VU more sustainable. And together with the Wellbeing Point we recently hosted an event where students got to know them, the academic advisors and us, as FSR, better.
How do you help students?
We can help students directly or indirectly. Directly would be when students come to us with their problems. Students mostly contact us when they have an education related problem and are not sure where they need to go. When we receive these problems, we either try to solve them ourselves or we send the student to the right place to deal with the problem. We can help contacting course coordinators when we get complaints. Sometimes students also contact us with personal problems, but we can’t help with these and always send them to the academic advisors in this case. We also help students indirectly, by bringing up the student opinion within the faculty.
How can students contact you?
There are different ways to reach out to us. You could contact us using email (firstname.lastname@example.org), WhatsApp (+31 6 16805959) or Instagram (@fsr.sbe). We are always open to make an appointment to drink a cup of coffee or tea with you. Or we answer the message you send.
What is it like, combining studying with being the chair of the FSR?
For me it is really nice! Within the Economics master's program, I'm doing a specialization in Public Policy and the FSR gave me the opportunity to write a policy plan myself and get some real life experience. However, next to the FSR I’m also doing other things besides my studies which makes my everyday life quite busy. But that’s fine, as I love being busy.
You did a board year for Kraket before this, how does this compare to the work you did there?
During my board year at Kraket I gained a lot of professional experience as well as contacts. This makes it easier for me to reach out to the different parties within the VU. Besides, my board year gave me a lot of experience in organizing events so I know what we should pay attention to when organizing something. A faculty council year is, however, different from a board year at a study association. First of all, it costs less time; I spend around 8 hours a week for the council, while a Kraket board year was full time. That is also why all my council members try to follow all their courses next to their council responsibilities. In a Kraket board year, you really focus on Kraket for a year and don’t have time to get all your study credits. I also feel like I’m relatively more busy with “serious” things during my council year. By this I mean there is a different ratio we spend on social activities compared to normal tasks. At Kraket you have activities weekly, while we organize a few activities per year. I now spend relatively more time in meetings. However, as a council we also get to enjoy some nice events. We are always invited to VU wide events. Moreover, did you know that councils also have constitution drinks (CoBos)?