University Post
University of Copenhagen
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The UCPH election merry-go-round continues

University elections 2017 — Drop the Student Council and choose university politicians who tell you openly what their ideological standpoint is instead.

You can’t not notice that we are once again in the middle of election time at the University of Copenhagen – and this time also in the rest of Denmark.

On every centimeter of wall space at the Faculty of Law, well-known – and less-well-known – law students adorn the walls with smiles as wide as their ears. All with election promises that intend to hijack students’ votes for study boards, academic councils and the university’s Board of Directors. And as usual, it is hard to figure out who stands for what and who to vote for.

Student council – a wolf in sheep’s clothing

On the Faculty of Law’s walls you see the Student Council’s and their United Lawyers subdivision’s many colourful posters.

Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, they pretend to be politically neutral and act only on behalf of the students – but what does on ‘behalf of the students’ mean?

How can one organization accommodate all of these standpoints at the same time? The answer is: they can’t, not even the Student Council.

For the Liberal Alliance, ‘better conditions for the students’ means that they want to “[…] remove the tax ceiling for students on SU so they can earn as much as they want. At the same time, our 2025 plan ensures that students are not taxed on the first DKK 7,000 they earn each month. This means that you as a student will get more flexibility.”

The Red-Green Alliance on the other hand wants to “[…] keep user payments away from higher education and maintain a proper SU,” as “free and good education should aim to create equality.”

For the Liberal Party, it made good sense to limit the number of dual education programmes while this was completely crackpot for the Social Liberals, the Socialist People’s Party and the Alternatives.

How can one organization accommodate all of these standpoints at the same time? The answer is: they can’t, not even the Student Council.

In short, the Student Council is a political organization, and a vote for the United Lawyers is simply ‘carte blanche’ for free play claiming to be the ‘voice of the students’.

Free Forum and Conservative Lawyers – strong co-operation across the centre

It is typically the centre ground that is fought over in Danish politics, but what if you could get the right and left to work together? We would like to try this. In the Conservative Lawyers and Free Forum, we don’t hide the fact that we are motivated by political ideologies.

In Conservative Lawyers, the members typically vote for the Liberal, Conservative or Liberal Alliance parties, while the classic member of Free Forum typically votes for the Social Democrats – we don’t want to hide this.

This does not mean that students who vote on other parties cannot be represented by our two associations, but they are just not our typical target groups. It is simply not possible to embrace such a wide group – even in education policy.

On a wide range of topics, Conservative Lawyers and Free Forum disagree, but there are also many areas where we agree. At the Faculty of Law we are co-operating to work for a better study administration.

A study administration that does not prevent students from focusing on their studies; that does not prevent student learning; yet instead contributes to a better learning environment.

The study administration and the study environment can be improved if:

1. Syllabus lists and curricula are published at least one month before the start of the studies
2. It is made clear where to turn for counselling
3. Examination periods for ordinary exams do not change after the expiration of the registration deadline
4. Examination dates for re-examinations are published at least two weeks before the exam date
5. The student does not have to complain about his/her examination grade to get an explanation for it
6. It becomes clear when there is a time limit on choosing electives
7. Students can choose – and not only wish for – the subject which they want to write a thesis or bachelor project in
8. Examinations are at least two days apart
9. Students may change supervisors during a bachelor’s project and master’s thesis with the consent of the student as well as the previous and future supervisor, and
10. The date for master’s thesis defense is published no later than two weeks before the exam date and not 3 days before, as it is now.

These are our ten policies for a better study administration and a better study environment – and we will fight for it!

Why does an ideological standpoint make sense in university politics?

It makes sense to have an ideological standpoint because university and education policies are political. It is difficult to have an education policy debate without revealing your ideological point of view as a debater. Yes, it is actually hard to think about how it can be done at all.

Of course, there are areas where both the Free Forum, Conservative Lawyers and United Lawyers agree. And of course we work together wherever we can. But we need to also accept that it is impossible to embrace all the students’ standpoints in one organization.

On behalf of Free Forum and Conservative Lawyers, we wish you a good election!