Candidate Highlight: Preksha Bapna

In Candidate Highlight, we give students an overview of each Student Council candidate in a series of short interviews.

Preksha Bapna is a second-year Science student currently running for a position on the upcoming 2020-2021 AUC Student Council. As Chair of the academic committee of The UCSRN, and a member of several other committee boards, she believes that her wealth of experience and knowledge of other University Colleges gives her a strong foundation for academic leadership. Her policy plan prioritises Diversity, Expression, and revamping the curriculum to improve student life at AUC.

Q: Hi Preksha. Could you walk us through the motivations behind your Student Council campaign?

A: I am currently the Chair of the academic committee of the UCSRN, and my first project as the Chair was to present a political manifesto to the Dutch government. That was what really made me want to apply for Student Council, because I did something at a broader level — a national level — so now I want to come back and represent students on a smaller and more personal scale.

Q: What did you present in your political manifesto?

A: It was ten points directed towards improving student life. Things like mental health and financial issues. In general, improving life for Dutch students, and international students in some cases.

Q: A big proportion of your policy goals are directed towards increasing diversity and expression at AUC. How would you characterise mandatory diversity workshops for teachers? What would that look like?

A: As far as I know, a lot of teachers don’t attend these workshops. It’s not reflected very well in their classes either. For some teachers, I think they are doing fairly well at it, because they want to. But some are not personally motivated; they don’t really address it and they don’t really make a space for students where this is possible. That’s why I made that a policy point, so at least full time lecturers would have to go through diversity workshops to be able to make this space available. Even if they don’t make use of it, it should be there for students to share what they want with teachers and other students.

Q: Your policy plan also has some ideas on how to improve diversity with students. What do you think is missing from the current repertoire of diversity oriented lectures and workshops at AUC?

A: It’s not necessarily adding something, but I think what is stopping students from saying what they want is social backlash. They’re always in the mindset of “oh if it’s not liberal and it’s not AUC then other students will look at me differently and judge me differently.” I think that’s true in terms of political opinions and religious views at AUC. I think that students should be encouraged to participate in these free diversity workshops so they won’t be scared to say things.

Q: Is there anything that you are particularly passionate about that you haven’t included in your policy plan?

A: It’s in combination with an idea that a friend suggested to me: to make a list for each track that outlines the recommended courses. So, if someone is taking the economics track then the course “Probability and Statistics” is not included in the track, but it is probably something that they need. Things like that. If you go to the course catalogue, there’s always a required prerequisites list, but I think that there should also be a list of recommended courses. For example, for European and International Institutions there’s no prerequisites for that course, but it also says in the course catalogue that the recommended course to take is European Integration.

Q: How is campaigning going so far? Have you enjoyed it? Any difficulties?

A: I think the most difficult part is not being able to do it in person, not having physical contact with people. I think that would make the campaigning experience more fun, because you get to interact with people and if you’re physically there people are more inclined to listen to you. But I think so far it’s going okay, I haven’t been campaining that hard this week. I thought that if I campaign very hard now then by the time voting comes people wouldn’t remember it well. So, my plan is to step it up as we get closer to the voting period.

Q: What do you think differentiates you from the other candidates?

A: I don’t know all of them personally, but I think that I have the most experience as a team member, and working in big boards. The knowledge that I’ve learned, especially in the past year, is really going to help me as a Student Council member — and I think I would be a better edition with that experience and knowledge.

Q: Which board do you think has prepared you the most?

A: UCSRN, because my role is more academic than anything else. Student Council focuses on generally acadeemic issues, and I think I’ve learned a lot about how academic issues work in other UCs and general information about them. I think that would be very useful because I can apply that knowledge to the Student Council.

Q: Is there anything that people don’t know about you that defines who you are?

A: It’s more something that people can infer from my campaign, but I am very passionate about what I do and the roles that I committ to. Even though it can be very stressful balancing all my committments with my academic life, once I put my mind to something I can’t take it off of it. I will always work towards something to the best of my capabilities.

Q: Who would you be looking forward to working with the most? Have you had any contact with any of the other candidates?

A: Not that much, but I’ve talked to Ange. I would personally be very happy to see her in the Student Council. I’ve interacted with her in a personal capacity and I think she would be a very good Student Council member. I also went through her policy proposal and she had some good ideas.

Q: Have you heard any interesting policy proposals from other candidates that have inspired you?

A: Karla had one point that she focused on which was having tutor evaluations. I thought that was pretty cool and it’s definitely something that should be implemented at AUC, because not everyone has had the best experience with their tutors, and haven’t always had tutors that have were very helpful.

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