In Candidate Highlight, we give students an overview of each Student Council candidate in a series of short interviews.
Goda Skiotytė is a second-year Social Science Major currently running for a position on the upcoming 2020-2021 AUC Student Council. She believes that her experiences have prepared her to ask tough questions and communicate with others to advance her policy ideas. Her policy plan includes reforming the AS&P and reviving the Tutor Handbook project.
Q: Could you walk us through your motivations behind your Student Council campaign?
A: I’m a second-year right now. Last year I joined pub-quiz, and as an experience it was not what I expected. I was disappointed with it (a little bit) because I had experience with similar events. So, I decided this wasn’t what I was looking for. Then, I got a job in a restaurant and I felt like I didn’t see myself fitting in a committee here in AUC, so I thought I would stick to my job. Then, in my second year I felt like I wanted to participate in AUC life and participate in AUC life to give back to the community. I wanted to participate and find a niche where I could fulfil myself and my expectations of what I want to do. Then, this whole coronavirus crisis started, and the second round of Student Council elections was announced. Actually, Bluma, the current co-chair texted me and asked if I would like to run. I thought “oh that’s a good idea”, because I had thought about it before but I was never sure about campaigning and I thought “that’s a lot of work”. I thought why not use this time to try out the campaign process. I thought I would just try and take it as an experience — I’m not expecting to win I thought I would just try it. What my best friend said to me was “Take university as a chance to do something that you wouldn’t get to do in the future.”
Q: What would you say has been the best part of campaigning so far? Any difficulties with the process?
A: I would say it’s definitely different without the human contact in the AB. I feel like you really have to fight for attention but you’re not sure if you’re really getting any. I saw that my colleagues who are running created separate accounts for that, and then they just try to get attention through that, but I decided to stay with my own personal accounts on social media. I know who follows me and who sees my stories and who likes, but it’s not sure if that really gets to them. You can’t really ensure what their impression is of you, contrary to what happens in the AB where you just talk to people. So, that’s a challenge: you don’t know how it’s actually going and what the opinion the audience has. The best thing for me though is that you can see the support that the other candidates give to each other: commenting on each other’s posts and reacting.
Q: In terms of your policy plans, one policy idea that you’ve put forward is a handbook for tutors. What would be the first piece of advice in that handbook?
A: It’s not my idea persay. It’s a project that has been started last year by the Student Council. When I was looking through the internal meeting minutes I saw that it was a thing in the beginning of last year, but it died down towards the middle of the year. I asked Bluma about it as well, and she said it died down because there wasn’t support from Management — they were reluctant to pursuing it. I still feel like the tutor—tutee relationship at AUC is problematic, because you see a lot of people talking about that. Considering the fact that all the candidates included tutor relationship in their policy plans, it needs to be addressed. I picked up the tutor handbook project in my campaign as a thing to be continued and worked on. I think the main thing that has to be included are the main resposibilities of the tutor, and the clear definition of the relationship, and the situations where the tutors can contact the tutors. It’s not that clear. Maybe some tutors mentioned it in the beginning, but it gets lost, so I feel that having a handbook would really clear up things in the relationship between tutors and tutees.
Q: You also include the AS&P as something to focus on in your policy plan. What do you think is missing from the AS&P?
A: It’s not necessarily something that is missing but what could be improved. A lot of other candidates are pushing for the absence policy to be renewed, or changed, or dismissed. It depends on their view. Why I chose to include overall scrutiny over the AS&P is because I feel like there are a lot of things, not only the absence policy, that can be improved. I know it sounds boring to people, and it’s not as eye-catching in the campaign, but I think that these procedural changes can lead to a long-lasting change. Reviewing it as a base document that we build our internal AUC life on, means that it has to be in the proces of improvement. For example, explaining what medical situations include and the exemptions from the absence policy. These small things just need more attention, because they can lead to a bigger and longer lasting change.
Q: Do you have any other specifics in the AS&P that you would like to focus on?
A: I would need to check, but I think that the AS&Ps should clarify that AUC give a clear list of possible organisations outside of AUC, and possibilities inside of AUC to fulfill the CPI. Because inside it is really unclear what is available. Sometimes you hear that “oh someone fulfilled it with logic’s team” or “oh yeah I did my CPI with this”. I think there should be a clear list of possibilities, that way you know what to choose. I think that would really help the CPI system.
Q: As someone with journalistic experience, do you think it has prepared you to ask tough questions?
A: I feel like journalism class gave me this drive for transparency and looking for the truth, whatever it is. Inside this whole complicated system of management, in general, I think it’s necessary to scrutinise and do research — that’s what journalists do. I think I gained that as a skill and it’s helping me prepare for the future. Also, in journalism you have to look for characters and see people for who they are, and see what kind of relationship you can have with them, so I think that would be very helpful for communicating with others in the Student Council. I feel like in that experience I had to talk to different people, different characters, to write about them — and I think that has prepared me.
For additional information about the candidates, consult: https://www.aucstudentcouncilelections.nl/