By Dyanna Rivera
MADRID – In a month filled with midterms, applications and decisions for summer internships, our student government candidates are keeping busy with campaign season. With campaigns in full swing, it’s important to reflect on our current student government team and all the progress they have made thus far.
One of the largest promises that the incumbent team made last spring as a part of their campaign when running as Team Yellow was changing the way that the student government itself was organized at IE. This entailed the creation of an IE student parliament which according to current student body president, Ricardo D’ambrosio, would play a legislative role between the student body and administration.
Although students were able to play a role in the legislative process with the election of class delegates, the system is not much different from what delegates were assigned to do last year. These delegates are responsible for checking in with their class periodically to address any concerns or issues that students are facing to then directly discuss proposals specific for each degree with the appropriate faculty members. However, the communication between the general student body and administration was not improved as promised in Team Yellow’s campaign last spring.
The second proposal was to boost social events at IE in order to foster a stronger sense of community. Two examples of such events this year were Social Awareness week during first semester and Sustainability week. The beginning of the year also included a modified version of the traditional Fresher’s Week, where students were able to choose from a variety of virtual and in-person events throughout their first week at IE. Unfortunately, for many students the engaging aspect characteristic of Fresher’s Week just wasn’t there. In an effort to improve based on the challenges presented in September, the student government team expressed the intention to organize a second version of Fresher’s Week in January to welcome first years who were not able to be on campus until the second semester but this never came to fruition.
One of the primary challenges aside from navigating safety measures during these activities was student engagement. Omar Sherif, Academics Officer for IE’s Segovia campus, says that “incentives are a must” when it comes to motivating students to engage in community activities and student government. Although COVID may have exacerbated this problem to a certain degree, Omar argues that it’s a challenge any student government will find themselves facing as this lack of engagement across the board was present in prior years as well.
That being said, one of the most effective strategies so far that this year’s student government has implemented to combat the lack of engagement is leveraging social media to directly connect with students. Marie-Therese Burkard, Community Development Officer for the Segovia campus, emphasizes that the best way to connect with students is boosting the image of the student government in a way that is accessible to them, that way they know who exactly is there to support their needs. Maria Laura Acosta, this year’s Communications Officer, reinforces this sentiment, “we are essentially the bridge that connects the student body”.
Through polls and surveys on Instagram, Maria has said that the team has received an even more clear image of what students want and need. But despite this, the team has not maintained their promises of keeping steady communication with organizations like The Stork, making modes of communication ultimately inefficient on an organizational level. When the vast majority of students feel only a vague connection to the IE student government, it is evident that a stronger presence must be established.
Moving forward, the 7th incoming student government team will be working with a campus that is now far more well-versed in the technicalities of hybrid learning and events than ever before. As Mathieu Metral, Community Development Officer for the Segovia campus, highlights “flexibility has been important”. This is something that prospective teams this year must keep in mind, along with the feasibility of their proposals. As all of IE can surely agree, smooth communication and flexibility on all fronts is now more crucial than ever.
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal for any student government team is to leave the university better than how they found it by helping uplift the student body. You can stay updated on campaigns this month via the student government’s Instagram @ieustudentgov as well as The Stork’s Instagram @iestork. It’s your time to vote.