Our primary points
Keep cash as a payment option in student restaurants
Coming September, cash will no longer be a valid payment option in the student restaurants. To replace this, payment terminals will be installed instead. We do not agree with this decision; paying with cash should remain possible!
Contrary to what you may think, cash payments are still the most popular
form of transaction for more than 340 million residents in the Eurozone.
It's safe, fully anonymous, reliable and fast.
Cash makes up 75% of all monetary transactions. Even in countries where other payment options are more readily used (such as Finland), 40% of transactions still take place using cash.
Obviously, you don't have to take a trip to Scandinavia to see how many people still use cash on a day-to-day basis. Every day, students here in Ghent use cash and enjoy the benefits associated with it.
Ghent University has to aknowledge these facts and keep cash as a valid payment option in all restaurants. Electronic payments are a useful option, but should never fully replace cash, only supplement it.
The argument of electronic payments being faster is a weak one: Electronic payments take at least as long as cash, if not longer. This can almost fully be attributed to typing the security code, and possible missteps associated with that (wrong code, insufficient funds, declined card, ...) And this is all assuming the electronic services actually function, because sometimes, the entire system just does not W-O-R-K.
This also poses problems for Erasmus students, who rely on the euro for their payments abroad, and do not always have a debit/credit card available. (The same applies to Belgian students!).
This change was most likely implemented to stimulate the use of the Epurse-system, which -in its current state- is not user-friendly enough:
- You have to surf to a website during your spare time
- Click a bunch of times to get to the right page to top up your balance
- Then you have to get your card and/or cardreader/app
- Then you have to verify your transaction with security codes or QR-codes
- After all this your money is transferred to Epurse credit.
- No needless surfing to a site
- No hassle with apps, security codes and QR-codes
- Stimulates the use of Epurse more, people can top up right at the register!
This way we strike two birds with one stone: We encourage the use of the Epurse-system, and we speed up cash payments by eliminating the change involved.
A decent minimum wage for all employees at Ghent University
All of us have unquestionably come into contact with the activists who have been
collecting signatures for this goal. At the start of March there even was
a big strike by the university's personnel.
It came to us as a shock that, for one of the most prominent universities in Belgium, this is not the standard. All employees have the right to get a minimum wage of €14 per hour. We applied for this position partly because of this social injustice. This mistake has to be rectified as soon as possible. In effect, we are mostly following the demands made by the General Union of Public Services:
- A minimum wage of €14
- A statute for all personnel that protects their pension, paid sick leave, and other benefits
- Directly hiring the affected staff, or demand subcontractors to pay their personnel said minimum wage.
Finalizing the recording of lectures
This is also a focal point with of our fellow candidates, and rightly so! It shows that these recordings are important to a lot of students in all parts of our university.
The advantages of recording lectures are relatively straightforward. Especially for students with a Personalised learing track (GIT), because this allows them to create a more flexible and optimal curriculum. And simply being able to listen to a recording of the professor explaining a certain part you're struggling with can make the difference between passing and failing.
The current coronavirus epidemic shows us that this is possible, while at the same time making the flaws in the system hastily put into place painfully clear. YouTube, Zoom, Teams, Discord, Ufora, ... Each professor has another approach. There is no clear policy on how to implement and manage such a system.
This is where would like to make a difference. Concerning the policy on class recordings we propose an all-encompassing package of technical measures, this way professors have a clear guide with which they can provide their students with everything required. With the following concrete plans we would like to distinguish ourselves from the other candidates:
How will these recordings take place?
First, the university will have to invest in required recording equipment, which will be distributed to all faculties. The faculties themselves can then work out the best time schedule to guarantee the optimal usage of the equipment. By using the same equipment in the entire university , we can provide universal guidelines for proper use.
Teaching staff may plan recordings as they see fit. Either providing seperate footage, or footage from the classes they teach every week are two prominent examples. This will prevent the excess additional workload associated with the creation of new audiovisual material.
Assuming proper use, most recordings will be complete and distributable directly at the end of the lecture.
How to publish the recordings?
Teaching staff will be provided with a simple program that will allow them to quickly upload the recording to a central server. Connect the camera to a computer, add a little information (course, subject, ...), and the program will take care of the rest!
Not every single lecture has to be recorded: Most often lectures will be relevant for the following academic years. As such, these things will only have to be recorded once.
How can I, as a student, watch these recordings?
The recordings will be made available via the bittorrent protocol. This means that you can download the recordings from fellow students, not just Ghent University. This is to avoid overloading the university's servers with too many simultaneous downloadss.
A website will be made available where you can find all recordings of your courses (and where you can view them, of course). The docents can also attach special remarks to the recordings if necessary.
Ufora/Brightspace is a disaster
We could list entire pages with the problems and annoyances from Ufora,
but you probably know them just as well.
As a student-informatician, it irks me to no end to see how Ufora was written; tons of useless code that slows everything down, a bad user interface, ugly layout, hero images (just why?!), no course summaries, ...
A large part of this website was written by myself, running on a simple home computer. That's not to say that my website is as complex as a learning platform for universities, but I will let you decide which kind of website you'd prefer to use. Trust us when we say: Ufora can and should be replaced with a platform that Ghent University deserves. We'll even go back to Minerva if we have to!
The negative news is that replacing a learning platform is a hard job. We'll have to consider carefully what the students want, what they need, and how we can make the work of the professors as easy as possible. Giving a concrete plan is not possible at the moment, because we cannot guarantee that we would be telling the truth.
Awaiting an actual replacement, we do propose rebooting Minerva, and using that to bridge the time between Minerva and a "new" Ufora. But instead of shutting down Minerva overnight (what happened with the switch to Ufora), there would be a transfer period where the "new Ufora" would be connected with the data submitted to Minerva. This means that what the docents post on Minerva, will automatically appear on the new platform. All this to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible, users can switch on their own paces, and we can constantly collect feedback on the state of the platform.
Even though the points below do not have the same urgency as the other ones, we do think it's important to mention them, and we will strive for these just as well. We will also explain why we put them under this header.
Stopping the anglicisation of Ghent University
A university can (and should) try to put itself on the international academic radar. Everybody wins when people share academic knowledge with each other. And it may go without saying, but the Erasmus programme is a prime example of the amazing things the European Union can do for its citizens.
That does not mean there aren't any limits. In recent years, Ghent University has not given our own language the same level of importance regarding its academic duties.
Doctorates are almost exclusively done in English, and a lot of master programmes are no longer taught in Dutch, even though this is required by law. Instead, Ghent University organizes so-called "phantom programmes"; the Dutch programmes exist on paper, but in reality, there isn't a single lecture on any of your courses.
Is this what we want? That higher education treats Dutch as an inferior language? That there's fewer and fewer studies being written in any other language than English? That Dutch can't be more than an honorable mention on your academic resumé?
Dr. Yves T'Sjoen (professor modern Dutch literature) warned about this a while ago, and is also worried about the position of non-English languages in higher education.
I'm proud of Belgium, and proud that we have no less than three official languages, so it pains me to see that Ghent University is evolving away from all of them, in favour of English.
Earlier we wrote about how amazing Erasmus is, but isn't part of exchaning students to learn about the local culture, and to learn a new language in the best way that there is?
It's understandable that Ghent University wants to organize English courses, because this attracts foreign students. And if it's possible to organize courses in more than one language, than we should definitely do so.
However, Ghent University has indicated that this isn't the case, which we believe. But in that case, the English taught programme should be the first to go, not the Dutch programme.
Phantom programmes are also a transparency issue: Effectively, the university is lying to its students about the programmes they can follow.
Dutch is a beautiful language, and deserves scientific research, deserves to be used in lectures, deserves to exist. English can not become the lingua franca of our university.
That being said, we don't want to dramatize; Dutch is still present at our university, and will not disappear in the coming years. That does not mean we just have to wait until it's too late to highlight this problem.
In effect, we do expect:
- That Ghent University follows the law (so phantom programmes must become real programs)
- That people pursuing a doctoral degree can choose for a Belgian language with the same ease as English (except if this is incompatible with the doctorate itself)
And what about students that don't understand Dutch well enough?
We think that technology can form the answer here.
We just talked about how recording lectures is one of our primary points. What's stopping us from providing translations of those lectures in other languages?
This could be an internationalization effort of enormous scale: Lectures could be taught in English, French, German, ... every language that helps a nontrivial amount of students can be used!
Translating does require an extra effort, but the future will tell who will do this: If the professors want to do it themselves, they're free to do so. Otherwise, this could be an excellent job for multilingual students looking to make some money.
Continuing the progressive climate policies of Ghent University
To be frank, Ghent University is well on its way to transform itself to an example of what the circular economy and factual climate policy is all about.
That's also the reason why this is a secondary point: it's already on the agenda. But we still want to assure you that we will not tolerate denialism to seep into the board. Both of us study an exact science, so you'll understand that we get pretty agitated if the climate mayhem is not treated with the urgency it ought to get.
Ghent University can also provide academic insights for new solutions to advance the transition. We want to propose research and debate to nuclear energy from thorium, an idea inspired by an article from three professors, and the fact that MIT thinks the climate goals can't be reached without utilizing nuclear energy.
Ghent University is one of the few institutions with enough expertise in
the matter at hand, and can also influence the national political debate to
give this subject some attention.
We want to accelerate that process, and let's be clear: The climate mayhem is currently happening, not next year, NOW, and we need ambitious goals and leaders nów, because just eating vegetarian and wearing a warmer sweater simply isn't going to cut it.
Who are we?
Maarten Vangeneugden comes from Limburg, and follows a program to become an informatician. He's 23 years old, and has had a knack for computers for as long as he can remember. After high school, he went straight on to study informatics at Hasselt University, and is now completing that formation at Ghent University. The rest of this website has a lot more information about him.
His substitute is Jonathan Driessen, a student of industrial-chemical engineering. He's lived his whole life in Turnhout, and his passion for sciences was more than enough reason to come to Ghent to study it all. He performs in e-sports and can't stand people talking nonsense to him. He can leverage that quality while discussing, because he can find fallacies like no other in somebody's reasoning.
Regarding the issue of transparency, we would like to clarify that we are a couple.
Do you have any experience?
Frankly, no. We haven't been in any kind of board so far, let alone been in politics. And while we're at it: Our programmes don't exactly deliver a lot of popular politicians, contrary to politicology and laws.
We do hope that this isn't a limiting factor to vote for us. We think
that all students with good ideas and solutions should try to make it
happen. We believe in our propositions and are driven to represent your
interests. It's up to you to decide whether we're worth to take on this job
in the Board of Governors.
What we lack in experience, we also try to mitigate with other properties, that are just as important:
- An integer policy
- Trust is a fragile thing; hard to get, easy to lose. Transparency and honesty are fundamental to a trustworthy board for Ghent University, and those values are very important to us personally.
- Not just pointing out, but also solving
- We not only talk about what we stand for, but also how we're going at it. Identifying problems is easy, but solving them as well is another thing entirely. That's why we also discussed concrete solutions on this page, so everyone can decide personally if we know what we're talking about.
- Actively updating
- Should we be elected, this page will be transformed to display updates on the state of affairs throughout the year. Of course you'll still be able to send us messages for questions or problems. That way we can keep everyone up to date on what's happening.
Your points are pretty atypical compared to other candidates, how come? Don't you think those other problems are just as, if not more, important?
That question is valid, and we have our reasons for this. We're convinced that we should only talk about points where we can reasonably assume that we can also make a meaningful change happen.
This is our way to be fair and integer to our voters: If you choose for us, we don't want to disappoint you if we can't reach our goals.
The high cost of course material is a good example. We also want this to be solved, but this is a structural problem of publishers that constantly publish "new versions" of books, but only change the order of the content, so students can use secondhand books anymore, and are practically obliged to buy new material.
But this is a problem within our economy, not something the Board of Governers has a lot of influence over. We'll be the first to condemn this parasitic practice, but then we need help of the Belgian government.
We don't want people choosing us, hoping that we're going to reduce the cost of study material, and then feeling betrayed because we couldn't make it happen. And that's why, in full conscience, we can't say we're going to change something that's not in our power anyway. A goal without a plan is just a wish.
However, you're free to ask about what we stand for using the form below. Because being integer and transparent about our goals and values, that's something we dó control ourselves. So you can be sure that we won't play around with your worries and thoughts.
I still have some questions, to be honest...
Feel free to ask them! You can find a form below that sends your
question directly to us. After review, you receive an answer on the
provided e-mail address.
Should your question be of importance to other voters, we will publish it here as well, without mentioning your name (unless you explicitely ask us to do so anyway).