The first year – a new start
After several years of inactivity the Doctoral Students have for once again a representation in the Student Union. An energetic start with a bunch of very motivated people paved the way for a year of intense exchanges, open meetings, workshops and representations in Sitzungen. From the beginning we laid a focus on exchanging with the students that we represent. We wanted to get to know the challenges, needs, desires and wishes students face. For this we arrange online as well as spaces in presence where we could meet students and tune into what’s going on. Deepening our knowledge we did a very successful survey with the focus on financial conditions of the students. Based on this information we directed claims and policies that we addressed towards the rectorat.
During the changes of the summer / winter semester we applied successfully for the Co-Chair of Curricula-Kommission (CuKo). This Kommission deals with the Studienordnung. It is basically the contract under which PhD Students do their Thesis. There it is written how things have to run. Having the trust of the Members of the CuKo strengthened our position in the Akademie. Besides our observatory role we also took direct action and voted for the implementation of ECTS for engagement in the Student Union. With the aim to make Student Union work a little more attractive for students.
Learning along the way
As newly constituted we had to socialize ourselves into the given structure. Although bureaucracy is nothing new to use. If one does a PhD one usually comes across a pile of bureaucracy during the studies, but let us tell you, bureaucracy on Student Representational Level is another game. It took time to get an overview of what needs to be done when, who is entitled but also mandated to do what and to what address does which things go etc. Once we kind of figured it out there was the bigger structure of the university in which we obviously move. And there the process of orientation begins anew. But as of now we think we have a good overview and learned from the mistakes we made.
But more than this. Representational work needs good senses and organizational skills, with those one is not born but one learns in practice. Several of our events required knowledge of how to bring people who do not necessarily know each other nor knew us together. How to reach out to familiar strangers in Post-Covid times and so on? Not easy tasks but for what we took up we are quite satisfied and happy with what we archived.
Things to look out to
The energetic start with which we took up our responsibilities almost one year ago we will carry on to continue our started work.
Ahead we find challenging tasks that we want to pursue for the general good of the doctoral students. We are tackling the possibilities of implementing the option of writing a cumulative thesis project. A thesis that exists out of several single related articles. In our ongoing discussions we negotiate the benefits of having more options that bring more freedom for the students against the neoliberal implementations that cumulative thesis projects often come with.
We are also following up our demands for a proper working space for the doctoral students. As we found out through self-reflection, speaking with students and the mentioned survey, most of us are struggling when it comes to a decent working place. We know that a proper working place is mandatory for a complex project like a PhD-Thesis and we see the links to the well being of students when it comes to precarity.
Related to all those mentioned is that we are constantly on the look for more people who take up the important task of Student Union Work. It does not need to be a complex involvement just knowing that you are willing to help out from time to time, would be very beneficial for use. Hope to catch you soon and to hear what your thoughts around our PhD Program at the Akademie der bildenden Künste are so that your needs and demands are met.