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Student Reps interviews: IRD

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

Find below the interview of the two Student representatives of the EU International Relations and Diplomacy department, Jef de Wit and Patrik Plavec!

Jef De Wit 

LVC: How was your life before College?

Jef: I’m from Brussels, and I’ve grown up there. I went to Brussels University where I did Communication studies. Soon I decided that my interest was always more in political communication, and so I decided just to fully make the switch into political science. That’s when I went to the University of Amsterdam for a year, which I loved. After that I did a couple of internships at the European Parliament and at the Belgian Embassy, and I was actually not planning on studying anymore. When I got selected, I was working at the European Parliament, where the College is a big thing, and so I thought that it was a great opportunity and I decided to just go for it.

LVC: Do you have any secret passion you want to share with us?

Jef: Well, it’s not very secret, but I love football. My favourite team is Anderlecht, a team from Brussel. Also, I’m into tech, like a lot. Smartphones, headphones, music in general. But the technical side. A lot of my friends often come to me to ask me about which smartphone to buy and so on.

LVC: What's the most important fight for you this year?

Jef: For me, a main issue is that between Student Reps, we all have different responsibilities but there is no general scheme for working together at all. Also, there is no Student Council. So the first issue that I brought up was to establish this Student Council so that we cooperate together during the year, and maybe also have seats in certain boards where we are not at the moment. We are already quite far in the process, me and Jonathan especially, we worked on a Student Rep Charter, which is quite long but it has to be quite extensive. The Charter would also entail the responsibilities of the Student Rep.

LVC: What is, in your opinion, a good student rep?

Jef: Availability is for me the keyword, I want students to know that it is easy to approach the Student Rep and he really tries to listen to me.

I think it was clear from Patrik and I when we were running : we are not offering this or that, we are just saying that during this year we will be approachable and you will be able to talk to us and we will do what they want us to do. I’ve had quite some students that have come to me with their individual cases, and they I have tried to take it up with students affairs office. But also the Student Life Assembly adds to that we know in general what people want. We have to give credits to the Student Reps of last year because they started this Student Life Assembly idea. We decided to take it up and added it to the Student Charter, so it is more concrete. We will try to do it before every academic council, so there would be at least two more during the year.

LVC: Do you intend to make any cooperation with residence rep this year?

Jef: The Students Affairs Office is establishing a little procedure on how both reps have to work. Even though it seems to be a quite a different vibe for Residence Reps, it could be a good idea to strengthen relationships between us.

Patrik Plavec

LVC: How was your life before College?

Patrik: I come from the Czech Republic as you maybe know. This is my first Masters’, and before coming here I’ve studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics in the UK. During my previous studies I did have one module on the EU. That year it was only followed by just three students. My approach to this is like, when my parents say ‘What do you know, the EU might not be here in the future.’ And that’s when I respond that ‘At least I’ll have a degree in modern history then!’ (Laughs). And over the past three years I also did a few internships. I had an internship at the Ministry of Trade and Trade and then spent 5 months at the European Parliament. Finally, during the last year I had a gap year, during which I focused on some civil society projects in the Czech Republic.

LVC: Do you have any secret passion you want to share with us?

Patrik: For me, an area that people would probably not know that I’m into is something like popular science approach to space exploration. In Czech media we have a few good writers on pop science that I follow. They also write a lot about the history of space exploration.

LVC: Do you have a book, or a documentary to recommend? Patrik: Not especially… Well, maybe this would be more approachable to an international audience. There’s an interesting blend of alternative rock contained in an album by the group Public Broadcasting Service’s, called The Race for Space. It documents the major events around space exploration. So, if someone is more into instrumental music blended with voiceovers from the era. Jef: There’s also a good documentary on BBC called ‘The Beginning and End of the Universe’. Have you seen it? It’s one of the best documentaries that I’ve seen!

LVC: What's the most important fight for you this year?

Patrik: It would be something that I have initiated a proposal for: the referencing system, that will hopefully be unified after the next Academic Council. The referencing system is meant to be unified soon across Eco, Pol, Ird and EG, which is not the case right now. It is especially disadvantaging people who have to switch between systems and it does not seem to make any sense. From the beginning I thought it was just slightly inconvenient, since we have a lot of papers, it could potentially save a lot of time. The reference system we proposed was the Chicago referencing system, because Eco uses it, not because of the preference. But I do like the footnotes based referencing system.

Jef: I like the APA system, but I would be completely happy with Chicago.

Patrik: And I would be completely happy with APA, just as long as it is unified.

(Laughs - both agree)

LVC: What is, in your opinion, a good student rep?

Patrik: I definitely agree with what Jef said about approachability, but at the same time I also thought it was necessary to have show some discretion and confidentiality.

I feel some of the problems that might happen to people are problems that they wouldn’t want to publicise, and I see the role of the Student Rep as very important in that they know how to handle this information with care and making sure that the proper procedure is observed. According to the official scheme, we are not listed as points of contact in case of harassment, but we still encourage students facing these issues to come to talk to us.

LVC: Do you intend to make any cooperation with residence rep this year?

Patrik: In some residences, we actually had complaints for a need of change that were brought up by the Residence Rep to the Administration, and I feel that there might be possible cooperation in matters that sort of exceed the Residence Rep responsibilities: some case might need an intervention from the Student Rep for example.


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