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UNIVERSITY ELECTIONS: Meet Elias Westergaard - candidate for the student seat on the University’s Board
Why are you standing for election?
Because I want to help create a university with high standards of professionalism, where there is good contact between researchers and students.
It works well some places. But there are also places where it can be done much better.
I will be our representative on the Board and make sure that we are heard. It is not certain that everyone will get to know who I am. But everyone will know someone in the academic councils or associations who can quickly find my cell phone number.
The Board seat is not mine. It does not belong to either a humanities student, a socialist or a liberal/conservative. We should all gain from having a student voice on the Board.
What are your key issues?
The first is to improve the contact between researchers and students. What makes the University so special is that we are taught by researchers. When I was studying in Germany, I went to a university where we had to deliver papers all the time and we constantly had to defend our papers in front of our instructors.
There was a relationship between the students and researchers, where we constantly had to be on our toes in our responses. This feedback made me a much better student.
It is wrong to divide up your days between your academic studies and your social life. It is about creating environments that are academic and social at the same time where you can meet your teachers.
It is the contact with researchers that makes the university exclusive and the study programmes excellent.
My second key issue is to create strong local study programme environments. The Board’s primary role is to ensure the different programmes have as good a framework as possible. Good study programme environments give us our academic identity.
My third key issue is that it is time for improvement. The University has for several years been characterized by downsizing, layoffs and closures of good academic environments. But we must help the new rector regain the ambition of a quality education.
We have been spending too much time tightening screws and attempting to push students faster through the system. Now it’s time for a mentality change.
How will you get going with the Board work?
I will first of all make sure that we students are heard. We are the ones who know what is going on, and we can ensure that the same mistake doesn’t happen again and again.
I always seek constructive conversation, because that is what gets you the furthest. If we are taken seriously as equal partners, there is no need to shout. So we need as students to engage in a constructive dialogue with management to make the university better.
What do you think of the Student Council dominance on the student seats?
I think it’s good that we have influence through the Student Council, because the Student Council is the place where we as students work together to create the best environment for students at university. I do not recognize student politics as partisan politics, as that is not what we do.
We have the whole political spectrum represented in the Student Council, and we can do that because national politics take up such a small portion of what we do.
We use 99 per cent of our time constructively resolving practical problems in study programmes in boards, councils and committees.
It is through the Student Council that we address the problems we have at UCPH. And the individual’s political orientation should not stand in the way of working together.
The challenges in relation to working together are not political differences, but different disciplines, for example between the students of the language subjects and the natural sciences.
The Student Council means that we can coordinate across subjects and learn from and help each other so we can create the best possible environment for all students.