Representative Advisory Councils

Back on the campus after spending 18 months at home, and how!

30 Sep 2021 20:32 | Representative Advisory Councils

Back on the campus after 18 months away, and not everything is going smoothly. As a council member, what can you do when students and staff express their concerns? The lines are short and the doors are open, so we can switch quickly if necessary. This is why I’m doing it.

A year and a half ago it was simple, the school was closed and we all went online en masse. In the autumn of 2020, we tentatively started to open up again, half-full classes and various measures allowed us to resume classes partly on campus. Everything was still manageable. But then in the end, just before Christmas, everything went back online again because of the second lockdown. This placed great demands on our resilience and flexibility. Meanwhile, the faculty-wide crisis management meeting had been changed to a weekly faculty-wide meeting. The council mainly discussed the wellbeing of students and staff at home, and our points were taken on board by the FBE management. Before the summer, for example, Education & Quality committee sent out a letter about online testing and the use of online meeting tools. As a result, degree programmes have now drawn up guidelines for video calling & online meetings with students and staff. Concerns about testing by means of proctoring have been expressed several times and, as a result, the Executive Board decided to phase out proctoring with effect from 1 September this year. At the moment, we are curious to find out how students who are abroad, top athletes and students in quarantine are treated.

From September onwards, things seem a bit more complicated once again. We are open again... with relaxations of the measures and fortunately with students and staff ‘on the floor’ again. This is fantastic, of course, but it also proved to be a challenge... On the Business Campus, for example, things didn’t turn out to be all that easy. After the summer recess with the Randstad conurbation in red, post lockdown with modified rules and just two stewards for a whole building during induction week?! This did not go unnoticed by me, or by colleagues and students. I was soon being asked questions along the lines of ‘social experiment’. In particular, people felt a lack of enforcement and clear communication. In order to remain open, it seemed clear to me that we should at least do our utmost to comply with the rules, because this is something we can influence ourselves. Then it wouldn’t be our fault if stricter measures were introduced nonetheless. The lack of clear communication and too little enforcement worried me. After observing this for a few days and seeing things get busier and busier, the questions from concerned colleagues increased. I then spoke to the faculty board and the number of enforcement stewards was quadrupled that very week.

With regard to the communication, things went a little differently. Students received no or too little information about the new guidelines, and staff also felt a lack of clarity. The information shared by the degree programmes also differed, even within the same building! As a result, I brought this up last week at the fortnightly council meeting in our discussion with the FBE management.

Yes, there are new relaxations of the measures, but that doesn’t mean that everyone feels comfortable with them. So how should we deal with this? How can we be sure to limit the risk of infection? Who can you turn to with questions about coronavirus? What can you do if you have trouble putting the more relaxed measures into practice with regard to your (mental) health? Who can you turn to if you don't feel comfortable on campus? What is being communicated to students? What should you do if a student is coughing and sneezing, yet still insists on attending an on-campus class?

After taking stock of the situation, two proposals for decentralised communication to students and employees about the relaxations from 25 September onwards were submitted, based on the needs of the student and staff delegations. The proposal for students was taken by the director of operations to the head of communications. We are awaiting the proposal for the employees...

In this way, I am attempting to exert an influence through participation in the interests of the wellbeing of students and staff, among other things. If you have any concerns or questions about the current measures or even the lack of such measures, feel free to ask one of us!

Leonie Akkerman, staff member representative advisory council FBE