In my four years at University I tried to be an active student as much as possible. I formed part of Insite for three years, with two of those years being part of the executive and I formed part of We Are’s executive for a few months last year as well. What I learnt in those years within an executive was that DegreePlus hours were the gold slots for events.
Why? Simple, DegreePlus hours were the only two slots in the week when the majority of students (excluding those at Mater Dei) would not have lectures, and so would be more interested in attending activities on campus, at least to kill those two hours until the next lecture starts. So when the University Administration started to stop student organisations from doing events during DegreePlus hours I was shocked…and quite ticked off. The reason for this prohibition was so that students could attend DegreePlus courses, because…you know…being part of a student organisation would not look good on a CV, and attending workshops and debates hosted by these organisations will definitely not teach you new skills (cue intense sarcasm).
So well done, University Administration, you removed the opportunity for student organisations to use the “gold slots”. Nonetheless, student organisations stood up from that beating and continued organising events anyway, trying to find new golden slots. And then the University came at them with a new attack: that of paying for the use of premises.
Want to use a Gateway Room for an info session? Sure, but cough up at least €65 euros, minus the cost of the Beadle, who will be paid €10 per hour. Yes, the numbers are specific because this was the quote I received myself. Naturally, I cancelled this event because as a student organisation, we do not have that kind of money to use on an information session, when that money could be used in more suitable ways.
So not only are student organisations affected by the loss of DegreePlus hours, but now they are expected to pay? I would understand asking for a deposit, which would be given back so long as nothing gets damaged, but actual renting of rooms? For students?
It begs the question, does University actually care about student activism? Does it notice that being part of a student organisation gives students the skills needed to work in a team, the skills needed to organise events and promote them?
If it actually does, it sure has a strange way of showing it.
Melissa McElhatton who has recently graduated with a BA (hons) in Social Work started out with Insite as a writer, then as CEO, and following as Social Policy Associate. She is also currently President of Gender Equality Malta (GEM).