Merel Dekker. Photo: UU

Medicine student Merel Dekker announced as the first student advisor to UU Board

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Effective September 1, medicine student Merel Dekker will join the meetings of Utrecht University's Executive Board to advise them directly about education matters and the interests of students.

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In the spring, UU started recruiting for a newly-created position: student advisor to the Executive Board. The idea is that this person would help the Executive Board get a better understanding of the students' perspective on educational and student-related policies, similarly to the student advisors at faculty level.

The advisor will participate in the Executive Board's weekly meetings, as well as other meetings relevant for the development of policies at university level, such as consultations with faculty boards and deans. To stay on top of all the news regarding education and students, the student advisor is expected to keep in touch with the student advisors at faculty level, student organisations, and students inside and outside the university council. 

This week, the Board announced that Merel Dekker (1997) will be the first student occupying this position, effective September 1. A student assessor for the Faculty of Medicine in 2019/2020, Merel was one of the four students who applied for the role. She's also active at The New Utrecht School, an interdisciplinary platform for urgent discussions on the interaction between medicine, the arts, and the sciences and humanities. Finally, Merel is a member of the student commission of the Faculty of Medicine. 

During the Education Parade, held in March, she gave a short lecture alongside the student advisor of the Faculty of Geosciences, in which she stated that students have the responsibility to get involved with societal issues and step outside the university bubble. Students must first develop themselves in a broad sense, before specialising themselves in any given discipline, argued the duo.

Merel applied to the position because she enjoyed her experience as student advisor in her own faculty. "You really stay on top of what's going on and sometimes you get the chance to offer the students' perspective when things are still at an early stage", she explains. To define what matters to students, she will not only rely on her own experiences and the experiences of those around her, but also listen carefully to the student advisors at faculty level and student organisations in Utrecht. "I'm part of the Utrecht Students' Big Band, so I can collect the opinions of a lot of different students there."

The Executive Board is glad that Merel is joining them. "I think the imput of a student can improve the decision making", said UU President Anton Pijpers. "In the Strategic Plan, we agreed that we would look for new ways to involve the community in our policies. This is an example of how we can do that in practice". Rector Henk Kummeling echoed the sentiment: "Faculties have had these advisors for  long time. That helped me out a lot as a dean".

The Executive Board will evaluate the experience of having a student advisor in the spring of 2022, before kicking off the recruitment process for Merel's successor.

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