Hochschulwahl – vote for your future

Henriette Hofmeier has a lot of experience as a student representative. Foto: Olha Kuzmyn

Henriette Hofmeier has a lot of experience as a student representative. Foto: Olha Kuzmyn

We all know that no establishment can exist without a governing body. What we don’t know is that no university can exist without a proper control of students over this body. So while the USA is absorbed in the presidential election campaigns, the students of the FAU have a more important event to think about – Hochschulwahl.

What is Hochschulwahl?

Hochschulwahl is the election for the student government commissions. You can choose students who will later represent your needs or ideas in front of faculties, professors and deans. You can also run yourself for this position or join any of the student bodies that take care of students’ lifes and leisure. The next Hochschulwahl takes place on the  June 15-16, 2016 between 9.00 a.m. and 15.00 p.m.  Detailed information about the polling stations and options of voting will be sent to all students eligible to participate via “Mein Campus”. On the election days you will be given three lists of candidates for Studentischer Konvent, Fachschaftsvertretung and Fakultätsrat, and School of Theology’s Appointments Council.

Studentischer Konvent (Students‘ Representatives Governing Board) is similar to a student parliament. It consists of 30 members half of which are selected from the Fachschaftsvertretung (Student Associations) and the other half is directly chosen by you and me during the elections. As the Konvent is a rather big organ it cannot manage to control all the incoming ideas or suggestions. That’s why it chooses representatives for the SprecherInnenrat or Sprat (a  council of spokesmen –  to put it literally). Basically, Sprat deals with the daily business of the university and is the first institution you should contact in case you have any complaints, suggestions, emotions, ideas or arguments.

Fachschaftsvertretung (Student Associations) is probably the largest students‘ group, consisting of about 64 delegates from all the five faculties. It specializes mostly on the needs of the students of a particular faculty and cares mostly about their wellbeing, the reasonable use of funds, the organization of various events and other important things. Moreover, 4 people with the most votes become a part of the Fakultätsrat (Faculty Councils), which is the highest institution among the faculties.

A lot of institutions, isn’t it?

Structure of university committees. Graphic: Stuve

Structure of university committees. Picture: Stuve

What is also important to remember are some basic rules of voting. The number of votes you can use depends on the number of representatives in the corresponding commission. There are also two options for the whole procedure: You can either vote for the whole group of candidates (yes, they are grouped according to the student bodies they belong to), or you can choose each candidate separately. If you choose the latter variant, bear in mind that you can give up to 3 votes to one candidate (yes, not only 1 vote per person). Finally, if for some reason you cannot come in person during the election days (15-16 June), you still can vote per post. Further information about dates, options, samples of lists, candidates, addresses and what not can be found on the universities German and English pages or on the Stuve page.

Why is this all important?

If you have read this article up to this very sentence, I bet this question has popped up in your mind… and not once. I must confess, I had the same first thought. That’s why I decided to talk with somebody who actually is part of this elaborate system of commissions and knows what to do with it. So welcome Henriette Hofmeier, a present student of the BA Computer Science, a former Sprat member and a future candidate from the FSI group.

Hello, Henriette! You already have much experience as a student representative but how did everything start for you?

Henriette: Once, I came to a meeting of the Sprat to ask for support for a small theatre group of which I myself was a part. Eventually, I got interested in what Sprat does and attended another meeting or two. Later there appeared a vacant position and I was elected to fill it. So everything was rather quick but I’m glad I decided to come here.

Has the participation in the SprecherInnenrat influenced your life?

Henriette: Definitely! Here you learn to look at things from different perspectives. You have an opportunity to figure out how the Universitätsleitung works and why sometimes it’s not that easy to implement even the perfect solution to some issue. Actually, it resembles real life politics a lot. You get the power to influence certain decisions or to realize your own ideas or projects.

Are there also international representatives at any of the student bodies?

Henriette: Rarely. Mostly because for internationals it’s even harder to find out about such things and combine them with their own duties. It’s  kind of a vicious circle: We cannot do much for internationals because we don’t know what they need. And they don’t know how and whom to tell about their suggestions or wishes. Nevertheless, we’d love to invite them to join any of the student bodies or Sprat. Though it could be difficult to become  part of the Konvent, anyone who is really motivated can still join FSI (Fachschaftsinitiative or student body initiative)

What were your biggest achievements as a member of the Sprat?

Henriette: The biggest one I have been part of is the introduction of the Semesterticket, though, apparently, some people don’t consider it to be successful. Also due to the deficit in the universitie’s budget, we had a problem financing student parties and other events where the service of a security firm was required (before that all these expenses were covered by the university). So we talked to the Kanzlerin and managed to find a common solution – now students don’t have to cover the costs all by themselves and the money from the university is equitably distributed among the faculties.

The biggest achievement of the student bodies in general is, of course, the „Abschaffung der Studiengebühren“ (abolition of the tuition fee) in Bavaria which some students from the FAU where involved in. So you see if you are motivated enough you can actually change your life and the lives of your peers.

Thank you for an interesting interview!

P.S. A few last tips…

If you have no idea which student body will represent your ideas the best, visit the Hochschulkompass. Here you can answer 16 quick questions and see which group follows which ideas.

If you didn’t manage to submit your nomination but would like to participate in the whole process – it’s never too late. Just contact one of the student bodies or Sprat and they will welcome you and your ideas.

And you can always become  part of one of the student bodies and make your contribution there, simply choose one of the following options:FSIen, RCDS Nürnberg e.V., Liberale HSG (LHG), Juso Hochschulgruppe, RCDS Erlangen e.V., Libertäre Liste Erlangen-Nürnberg.

Olha Kuzmyn