As a Student Assessor, you are like a Spider in the Web of the Faculty
Could you please introduce yourself?
I am Michiel Maij, a master student of Mathematics and this year I am the Student Assessor of the Faculty of Science, Mathematics and Computer Science.
Why did you choose to become the Student Assessor?
Before becoming an Assessor, I have been a member of the program committee of mathematics for two years, and then I was an Institute Assessor of mathematics. I just noticed that I really enjoy working in student participation. I like working with students or giving advice on policy, and that was also the reason for me to apply for this position; because here I would be working with problems that exist also on a faculty level and not just on a Mathematics level.
Being the Student Assessor, what can you do to help solve problems that students experience?
As an Assessor, you are like a spider in the web of the faculty. You work together with the Faculty Board as an advisor, there you are allowed to give your opinion on everything from the student perspective within the faculty; and the faculty board always takes your opinion seriously in their considerations. The topics range from education to research. In addition, you also have contact with the Faculty Student Council, the education center, the study associations, Olympus, the other Student Assessors and the Rector. This way, you are in contact with a lot of different parties you can talk to and give advice to. Exactly in that way you can raise issues everywhere. But in addition to that, you are also a collector for problems and information that you pass on to those people who can best deal with this subject.
You indicated that you could already gain a lot of experience within student participation before you became a Student Assessor. Is this experience a requirement?
No, it is not a requirement. You can become the Assessor with other experiences. The biggest difference between an Assessor and a regular student participation position (the FSC and the PC) is that an Assessor is really an administrative position. You form the bridge between students and the staff members. A little affinity with both groups is the most important ability you should bring for this position. So if you have some experience in administration, and this can be within a study association or within a political party, or a number of years within the student participation, that is useful. Once you have that, then you are automatically qualified to become an Assessor.
So how do you become the Student Assessor?
Last year, I was asked to possibly become the Assessor. Then I sent a CV and motivation letter to my predecessors. After that, I was invited for an interview, and not much I heard that I had become the Assessor. It is not like with the FSC or the PC that the selection goes via elections, this is really via applications.
As an assessor you work on many different projects. What have you already achieved this year?
First of all, as an Assessor you are independent, but you actually solve things by getting in touch with people. For example, together with the FSC, I was able to ensure that there is now a pilot for free coffee for students until the end of the year. Furthermore, I thought along with the other assessors of the other faculties, with the Faculty Board, with the study associations, and with the educational institutes, about how we can get students back to campus after Corona. We noticed that especially second year students are staying at home more, because they are used to following online lectures or they don't have a room yet. As an Assessor, I have not only been thinking along about how we can motivate the students to come back to campus, but I also tried to make it clear to the Faculty Board that it is very understandable that they are not there, because they are just not used to it. We then look for a way how we can still get the best out of the situation for everyone. Something that I have achieved, which is really tangible, is that this year, I have taken a bit of a lead on the trust person initiative we are setting up in collaboration with most of the study associations, the FSC and Olympus. With this initiative we want to lower the threshold for students to reach out to the centrally organized trust persons. The ideas that we have put forward are now used by other study associations within the university, but also by the central board; because also on the central level they are working on a plan for trust persons.
Nice that you are able to put up such great initiatives. So can students contact you if they have a problem or an idea for an initiative?
Sure, students can always contact the Assessor. Basically, the Assessor is an invisible position, because they operate more in the upper hierarchy of the faculty. But that just means that the Assessor has a very unique place to address problems from there. So you can always contact the Assessor, but mainly about problems that are significant at the faculty level. Think for example of facilities such as study landscapes, computers, sanitary facilities, but also of the scheduling or examination problems. The Assessor will then find out the best way to deal with the problem. So, you can always send an email, even if you have doubts whether you are in the right place with your request, it is always welcome!
Being the Student Assessor sounds like a lot of work, how do you manage to combine this with your studies?
For being an Assessor you have to plan around 20-30 hours a week. The advantage is that the function is very flexible. So in practice you can safely follow an additional 10-15 EC per quarter, but it also depends on how much you can handle. I have the advantage that I am now in the concluding phase of my master's, and only have to finish my thesis. It is very easy to combine the thesis with this job. When I'm not in meetings, I just work on my thesis.
I heard that you haven't found a successor for next year yet. Do you have a message to anyone who has doubts about becoming a Student Assessor?
Yes, I definitely have a message! Many people are scared because the Student Assessor is a position within the faculty board that takes 20 - 30 hours a week. That's quite a lot of time, but it's time that you can fill in fairly freely; it's a very flexible position. During the week you have a number of fixed appointments, but after that you are free to fill in the tasks necessary to complete your personal projects. You can do as many or as few projects as you like. Moreover, you can choose to do the things you actually like, or even to give priority to your studies. Being the Assessor is a very special experience, not only on a professional level, but also just for yourself. You are a bit involved in everything. You're involved with the Faculty Student Council, but you're also a member of the Faculty Board. That gives you a unique behind-the-scenes perspective on all aspects of the faculty. For example, you sometimes participate in activities and events not as a student, but as a member of the Faculty Board. This different perspective gives being the Assessor a very special feeling. If you have any questions about the position as Assessor or anything else, you can always get in touch with me. You can do this by just addressing me on the hallway, dropping by my office or via email.