What is life like as a student representative? What drives some students to apply? What are the requests they carry forward and how do they reconcile life as a student and that as a representative? We have selected the answers of some of them, for a small collective narrative
I chose to apply as Student Representative in February 2021. After a year of pandemic, a whole year locked up at home, I decided that as soon as I returned to the Polytechnic I would absolutely devote as much time as possible to giving everyone what I hadn't been able to have for a year and a half: a university life in attendance. As a representative you learn to work in a team, to manage crisis situations, to discuss continuously with your teammates to find the winning way. ‘Extra-study life is that extra piece that makes the student's puzzle complete, and makes them alert.
Wake up early in the morning and go to class, a few quick glances at the phone to reply to emails from some teacher or staff member or messages on Instagram, Telegram or Whatsapp from students. Then a break between one lesson and another and one chats with one's classmates, sometimes even about subjects experienced first-hand as a representative (news, meetings, opinions), one resumes the lesson and when it ends one takes out the lunch box and eats in company (in case of forgotten or unprepared lunch box: lunch in some eatery or street food shop). Then coffee, a game of scientific scopone or briscola a chiamata and back to lessons. Other breaks, other exchanges of emails and messages. At the end of the lessons there is always some representative activity: an institutional meeting, a student assembly or a discussion – followed or interspersed with an aperitif – with the list colleagues, finally one goes home for dinner and maybe one meets up with friends. At the end of the day an immense tiredness, but also a great satisfaction! Then there are occasions that take us away from the university, to talk about the university! We were recently in Berlin to participate in the Student Forum, the student representative body of ENHANCE, an alliance of seven leading European technology universities, and which includes two students from each of the member universities. We meet once a month, usually online, except twice a year when we get together in person to face meetings and workshops lasting one or two days in one of the locations. In Berlin we discussed our structure in view of the entry of three new universities into the alliance (Gdansk Polytechnic, ETH Zurich and TU Delft) and the progress of the project in general.
In my case, there are many meetings: I simultaneously hold the position of Board Member and that of Vice President of the Student Council. Among the various meetings, about twice a year I attend the Permanent Student Commission, a body that mainly involves the six representatives of the central bodies, the Rector and the Director General. Here we evaluate and approve, for example, the cultural activities proposed by the student associations of the Politecnico, deciding where and how to invest the annual €500,000 that the Politecnico offers to students through the cultural activities call. But there's more: the Student Council, made up of twenty-six members, is the body where the central representatives meet together with all the faculty representatives. All this is added to the possibility of participating in countless specific commissions, such as the regulations or the building commissions. There is also the honourable possibility for me to request specific meetings with the Rector, Pro-Rector and with all the delegates and department heads who make up the University Governance. Ad hoc working groups are often created to talk about topics such as safety in the University or the problem of spaces.