A meeting of VMU Student Parliament took place
January 19 a meeting of the Vytautas Magnus University Student Parliament took place, chaired by Gabrielė Jonuškaitė, the chairperson elected during the previous sitting. During the meeting, the forthcoming interim procedure for the election of the President of Vytautas Magnus University was presented, the decisions of the parliamentary canteen working group on the conditions for the selection of the canteen manager and a proposal on changes to the Student Parliament ‘s rules of procedure were presented. The direct presidential election, issues raised by the doctoral students’ club and other issues were discussed.
The Board submitted the procedure for the election of the President of VMU SA to the Parliament for approval. As last year, the collection of signatures is being refused due to the COVID-19 pandemic still in the country and the limited contact between students. Presidential candidates will be required to submit an application, cover letter, and operational guidelines via email. The electoral procedure was approved by consensus.
Martynas Butkus presented the proposal of the Canteen working group regarding the conditions for the selection of the manager of the Canteen at the Vytautas Magnus University Multifunctional Science and Studies Center. The most important things in the submitted proposal were related to food, so that the offered dishes would be complete and meet various nutritional needs, and that the price of food for VMU students and employees would not exceed 3 Eur. for other visitors – not more than 5 Eur. The manager should also rent the canteen premises for a symbolic fee and allow the existing space to be used for the needs of the university community after the canteen’s opening hours. In addition to the price of food, the most common debate among members of parliament was that the canteen manager must ensure that at least half of the canteen’s employees are members of the VMU community. During the vote, it was decided to approve the document by deleting the latter point.
Another issue raised by M. Butkus was about the direct presidential elections of VMU SR. There was a debate on this in Parliament a few years ago, but it was forgotten without a working group to look into it. During the meeting, the parliamentarians did not decide on a specific action plan for the direct elections of the President of VMU SA, but promised to hold an informal meeting and discuss the importance of this issue during it. Another issue closely related to the presidential election was the amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the VMU Student Parliament, which focused on the parliamentary election procedure. In the amendments presented by Martynas Butkus, the proposals to reduce the number of parliamentarians and to allow individual candidates and lists of candidates to enter the parliament caused a lot of discussions. It was therefore decided to vote on the relevance of the matter. During the vote on the relevance of the VMU Student Parliamentary Electoral Reform, the parliamentarians decided that this issue was not relevant (19 out of 29 members of parliament voted against).
Representatives of doctoral students raised the issue of foreign language learning opportunities for doctoral students at the last parliamentary session. During this meeting, Andrius Šmitas presented this issue in more detail and said that if university do not want to create separate foreign language modules for doctoral students, they could have the opportunity to study a foreign language together with VMU staff, as doctoral students are future employees and have similar activities and needs. During the discussion, it was suggested that doctoral students further explore the level or specificity of language required for postgraduate students and the timing and frequency of lectures.
Another issue raised by doctoral students is the appointment of doctoral students as scientific advisors. If the doctoral student’s required scientific advisor is appointed, his / her work may be: unpaid, paid for by the doctoral student himself / herself, or paid by reallocating the doctoral student’s supervisor hours (for example, allocating 10 hours from supervisor to supervisor hours). However, the consultant may not want to work for free and the doctoral student may have to pay with his / her own money, and the doctoral student’s supervisor is not obliged to share the working hours and remuneration for the consultant. It is noticeable that the hours for the supervisor are not reduced and the consultant is paid if he is from a foreign institution, which is unfair to VMU lecturers, thus also restricting the doctoral student’s freedom of choice. It has been agreed in Parliament that more attention will be paid to tackling this problem and how fees for scientific consultants are distributed or regulated.
The next meeting of the Vytautas Magnus University Student Parliament will take place on March 10. We are planning to hold the meeting live.