By Ottavia Mossetto
At Kleve campus, students’ first impressions are shaped around the idea of being part of one big heterogeneous group, which can be a really confusing experience. Even more confusing, can be a glance at the student body politics.
Student representative organizations consist of four different groups: StuPa (Studierendenparlament/Student Parliament), AStA (Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss/General Student Committee), Senate (Senat), and four FSRs (Fachschaftsrat/Faculty Student Representatives), one to represent each faculty. Catcher on the Rhein reached out to each FSR for an interview to help students better understand what an FSR does. The Society and Economics FSR (FSR S&E) responded first to talk about its university involvement.
FSR S&E Chairperson Marina Mengis, Vice Chair Lea Thieringer, Head of Fair Trade and Social Affairs Ann-Christin Arnold and former chairperson Hanna Becker shared their FSR S&E experiences. The discussion started with the recent ‘boom’ in membership from 17 to 29 members. According to Thieringer, FSR S&E cultivated growth through their incredible self-promotion last semester.
“The group increased all of a sudden,” Mengis said. “In the beginning there were just a few people. Hanna changed everything.”
According to Mengis, when Becker became chair in 2016, there were not many projects on the horizon and not many people involved. She says the FSR S&E changed for the better under Becker’s leadership. Although a more stagnate organization before 2016, there was one fundamental issue already taken care of: the FSR S&E statues stating the rules and procedures.
“[Our rules and procedures] talked about each task and position,” Mengis said. “It talked about being active in StuPa and student government. We still abide by these rules.”
Having the base of the organization already steered with the rules in place, Becker and the team moved the FSR S&E forward. They created events such as the Mulled Wine and Waffle night, the Silent Party, the Beer Run and alternative events in collaboration with other student bodies.
“We regularly support other student projects,” Thieringer said. “As we supported the International Africa day, we also helped finance and volunteered in events like the Festival of Tolerance, which we are supporting this year as well.”
According to Mengis, this new, enlarged team presents the possibility to further develop and enrich goals, which can now be enacted. She says the FSR S&E is also working on the sustainability of its extended network, so that what is done now can be available for the future FSR S&E.
“[The FSR S&E has] a dialogue with the dean that we exchange every semester to give feedback and to talk about demands of students,” Becker said.
The FSR S&E has access to funds to assist student projects and events, according to Mengis. The three current members agree that indeed all projects are directed toward the idea of the FSR S&E becoming more representative and more of a voice for students as opposed to just a party organiser.
“We have funds, and we want new student ideas on what students need,“ Mengis said. “This is why we are now talking with the student representatives of the different study programs within the faculty.”
Everything looks pretty exciting for the new enlarged team, but some hurdles still need to be addressed. For example, Mengis admits that some students perceive the FSR S&E as a “German club.“ Over half its members are German. International students represent the minority of the 29 FSR S&E members.
“We have less international people than other student bodies, but we don’t promote that,” Thieringer said. “Involvement in the FSR S&E is for everyone who wishes to be involved.”
The FSR S&E has some plans in place to try and involve more international students. In the next meeting with the dean, they will propose a quota for international students.
“A past member actually proposed a quota,” Mengis said. “This is something that we are working on.”
The quota aims to guarantee more international students a spot in the FSR S&E. According to Mengis, this may enable increased internationalization within the FSR S&E. The 2018 FSR S&E has many goals, the three representatives say.
The team is highly motivated and has the largest member size yet, Mengis says. The FSR S&E is open to all students. To find out more information about sustainability, students can check out the Facebook page Fairtrade Student Group HSRW. Also, to learn more about FSR S&E, students can email firstname.lastname@example.org.