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2018 Election Interviews: Ruben, Amber and Any

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  1. What is your full name, semester, hometown, and the position you are running for?

My name is Ruben van den Akker, fourth semester student. I am from the most ugly place of the Netherlands, Zoetermeer and I’m running for UCR Council and AAC Treasurer.

2. What is it that you feel you can contribute to the UCR Council and the AAC?

Firstly, I feel like I can contribute quite some experience to the AAC Board of 2018-2019 if I were to be elected. I have been in RASA, Chair of the Summertrip Team (2x), Elliott Food Team volunteer and GBM of Christmas Gala Team and Graduation Team. In my three semesters in RASA, first as CAO and later as treasurer, I learnt a lot about being in a board, getting across my opinion, working together with my board members, and meeting external parties. Besides that, I think I can contribute to giving the students a strong voice in the UCR Council, as they are what UCR is most about. I am not someone who will easily give in to pressure from UCR parties when the arguments made are not convincing, and expect myself to be capable of clearly putting the opinions and issues of the students on the table, if fitting for the council meetings.

3. What issues do you consider to be the most pressing for the AAC? 

I identify two pressing issues for the AAC. The first one being (again) the election procedure. This year it was decided upon that candidates could run for positions within the AAC, and that those positions were then linked to representative seats in governance bodies. However, in the end, this turned out to not be possible, setting all candidates on the wrong foot.  Just to clarify, this is not on the AAC, but on the Election Committee set up by UCR. Secondly, what the AAC should strive for, in my opinion, is that the board should decide upon certain issues most pressing for students (such as mental health was an important topic for last year’s board) and then attempt to formulate one general student opinion and represent those in all governance bodies. By giving out such a signal those points are more likely to be taken seriously.

4. Please outline a few ideas/initiatives you would like to implement if elected.

So building onto my previous statements, I would first like to very critically review the election procedure for the AAC. The AAC is not the one making the rules, but we should do everything to fix the mistakes that were made in previous years by the election committee, and see what is possible within the framework in which the elections have to be organized. Additionally, I would like to meet over the summer already several times with the new AAC to talk about which issues we think are considered most pressing by the students, and to set a goal or an agenda list determining in what order we can bring them up in which body to really achieve something. I want to do this in summer already because I know from previous board years that there will be very little time to have these (extensive) discussions during the semester.

5. AAC: what is it that you like to do outside of the classroom?

Although a lot of my time outside of the classroom in the past semesters have been in meetings or doing my bookkeeping (I acknowledge that that is not healthy, but hey), I do have some actual hobbies. I very much love to play sports. Here at UCR I have played both football and volleyball frequently, and if time would permit it I would join the Roosevelt Runners and a football club in the neighborhood (I have played football for 11 years as a kid). Once every now and then you might also encounter me in Elliott!

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  1. What is your full name, semester, hometown, and the position you are running for?

My name is Any Akopyan, I’m from a beautiful city called Rotterdam, and I’m in my second semester. I am currently running for a position in the Program Advisory Committee and for AAC Secretary.

2. What is it that you feel you can contribute to AAC?

I think I will be of value because I have a great sense of responsibility. Moreover, I am really a problem solver: I enjoy dealing with the problematic aspects of a task. Very often, problems are not as big as they seem. That is why I always try to look for easy, practical, and effective solutions. But to solve certain issues, it is important to be able to communicate well, politely, and in a clear fashion. That is what makes a position like AAC Secretary so exciting: as a student representative I want to sit down with students, hear their input and ideas, too, and be their voice.

Lastly, I already have relevant board experience. At the moment, I am the treasurer of our Roosevelt Debating Society. I know what it’s like to have regular meetings, and to disagree with board members but still be able to come to an agreement through good communication.

3. What issues do you consider to be the most pressing for AAC?

There are three things that caught my attention in particular: Firstly, the course evaluations. Right now, they seem to be for the instructors only. In addition, sometimes they’re not handed out or cannot be filled in anonymously. I think the course evaluations should be transparent and relevant for the students, too. Secondly, there are still courses with problematic aspects. I think it’s important that no student regrets taking a course. That is why I especially want to target those systematic issues within certain courses. Lastly, I would like to focus on certain requirements, like languages or writing. I want students to get the most out of those courses. Internships should also become more attainable, in my opinion.

4. Please outline a few ideas/initiatives you would like to implement if elected.

To have more transparent course evaluations, I would like to have summaries of course evaluations, or pro-con lists. They should be published and easy to find on the website of UCR. To solve the problematic aspects of courses, I would like to actually sit down with classes. I want to hear myself what students want to say, and what their initiatives are. After that, it is my job to put those thoughts into actions. For our requirements, I would like to have more language options, like Italian, Russian, Chinese or Japanese. This would make the language requirement more enjoyable. UCR should also become more flexible when it comes to the scheduling of internships. Sometimes students need an additional week or two to finish their internship. UCR should support us in that.

5. What is it that you like to do outside of the classroom?

I love taking walks, there are very nice spots here in Middelburg! I think it’s very important to just get some fresh air, it really helps you to process the things you do.

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  1. What is your full name, semester, hometown, and the position you are running for?

My name is Amber Averens, I’m from Rilland, a small village here in Zeeland. You probably don’t know it but you have most likely passed it when you were travelling to and from Middelburg by train. Right now I am in my 4th semester and I’m running for AAC secretary!

2. What is it that you feel you can contribute to the AAC?

I’m known for being extremely organised and structured. I’m the person my friends go to when they are stressed out and don’t know what to do anymore. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I am never stressed or never watch Netflix while I should be doing something else, but it does show that I have the skills to be the person the board can rely and fall back on; it will allow me to truly be the backbone of the board.

Next to that, I have been an ambassador for UCR since my first semester, and I’m part of the IB for both RASA and HAC. This has not only given me great insights in what UCR is (after explaining it a million times you get the drift), it has also provided me with great communication skills, and it has taught me how to work well with others.

3. What issues do you consider to be the most pressing for the AAC?

The current board has done a tremendous job in setting up the AAC as it is right now. However, there are still certain issues that need to be addressed. One issue that I came across when I was considering to run for the AAC is that it is still largely unclear to many students what the different bodies do. Especially for the PAC, because it is a rather new body. I want to put some time and effort into providing the students with more insight into what the PAC can do for them.

Another persistent issue is the course evaluations. Students still don’t have the feeling their opinions on the quality of education at UCR are being heard. The current PAC representatives have already made a good step towards more transparency in the report that they published last week, however, I want to explore how we can do even more.

4. Please outline a few ideas/initiatives you would like to implement if elected.

I want to make the PAC more visible. Right now, a lot of people don’t know what it does and what it can do for the students. There are several ways to go about this. Next to possible weekly updates in the newsletter, Facebook is a great tool for this. Right now, there is a Facebook page for the BoS, PAC and the UCR Council, but it isn’t used that much, and especially not for the PAC. I want to change that.

Another project I want to carry out is updating the Intranet when it comes to the course/track outlines. Most of them are old, outdated, or just not there. This can easily be fixed, since professors make course outlines anyway. On top of that, a guide with student experiences about courses/tracks would also make course choices much easier for the students.

5. what is it that you like to do outside of the classroom?

Next to standard things like meeting up with friends and watching Netflix, I spend a lot of time outside UCR on mountain biking. When I tell people about this they are often surprised because it is not what they expect from me. Although I was a bit hesitant at first, it has proven to be a great way of blowing off steam and clearing my mind. Spending some time outdoors, away from the UCR bubble, always keeps me energized for the rest of the week.

 

 

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