The Lost Voice of the Students?

The results of the Faculty Coordinator elections have been announced (results at the bottom). However, to show a little love to the new Faculty Coordinators, Natasha Smith has written a piece on just what these people do, and why we should care a little more…

In the buzzing atmosphere of this week’s SU elections, University Park campus has been brought to life by vibrant campaign posters and eager candidates with colourful promises. With t-shirts and slogans and Facebook groups galore, it’s been hard not to be swept up by the positive energy of it all.

There are, however, a number of positions in these elections which have struggled to capture our attention to such an extent. If we flick through the manifesto booklet, past the presidential candidates, past those running for activities officer, right to the back, we find a quiet collection of faculty coordinator candidates, patiently waiting in line to be considered by the student electorate.

In chatting to candidates running for Faculty Coordinator positions, I found that all candidates acknowledged one critical problem: that most people simply don’t know who Faculty Coordinators are. “Nobody knows that we exist – not even staff or Course Reps,” explained Lindsay Hainey, the only candidate for this year’s Faculty Coordinator for Medicine and Health Sciences.

Jethro Sturgeon, this year’s uncontested candidate for the Engineering Faculty Coordinator position, admitted that even he was not even aware of the existence of Faculty Coordinators before nominations for elections rolled around this year, and that since participating in the elections he has noticed that even those who do know that Faculty Coordinators exist are confused as to what they do. “We need to clarify their role to freshers”, he claims.

It seems that the blurring of the functions of Educational Officers, Faculty Coordinators and Course Reps is central to this lack of awareness and confusion of what the Faculty Coordinator position represents. Arts Coordinator Michael de Vletter has the frustrating experiences of fellow students as motivation to strive for fairer and more thorough assessment marking methods. It is debatable as to how far their responsibility for this extends, and where it overlaps with that of the Education Officer.

Fundamentally, Faculty Coordinators would massively benefit from publicity centred upon distinguishing one role from another; students need to be shown exactly how the system of representation works all year round between the Education Officer, Faculty Coordinators and Course Reps. A brief summary in the election manifesto booklet is not enough to empower students at all times to raise their relevant concerns.

It is not that students do not care about these roles; rather there is limited energy invested in clarifying to students the many benefits to be gained through involvement with the positions. Efforts to increase awareness will induce change.

The Winners were:
Engineering – Jethro Sturgeon
Law and Social Sciences – Maria Mantynen
Science – Sam Cooper
Arts – Michael de Vletter
Medicine and Health Sciences – Lindsay Hainey

One Comment
  • Elizabeth ‘egg’ Goddard
    13 March 2010 at 05:42
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    You do realise the photo is of Rep Officers?

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