At LSE, undergraduate and postgraduate students can make themselves heard through Student Academic Representatives, who are members of each programme elected to serve on the Student-Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC). The SSLC meets at least once a term to get feedback on the students’ experience in the department. To learn more about this role, I interviewed one of my programme’s Student Reps, Cecilia Williams, on representing her fellow students in the SSLC.
What are your responsibilities as a Student Rep?
Cecilia: “The main part of the role involves communicating with peers on our course to collect feedback that we then bring for discussion to the termly meeting with our department. We come together to talk through and propose solutions wherever possible as well as negotiate actions to issues raised. In many ways, we are not just the bridge between students and their departments, but also the bridge between the LSE Students’ Union and the university at large. During the pandemic many of us have also taken on added social responsibilities to help the department implement and devise strategies to keep everyone connected virtually which has brought with it its own learning curve.”
What is the time commitment of this role?
Cecilia: “You can really make the position your own and so the amount of time and work you want to put into the role varies. The primary responsibility throughout the year is to gather feedback from your cohort and present this to department faculty and staff across the two meetings we have in the year, which at minimum makes the role about a 6-8 hour termly time commitment. However, you are also always wearing your rep hat in a way and staying attuned to conversations among your peers to understand how the experience might be improved for next term and future cohorts.”
What is your favourite part of being a Student Rep?
Cecilia: “Connecting with peers and being responsible to sort of help bring everyone together is definitely a plus. Developing closer working relationships with department faculty and staff is also a great part of the job. Though, I think my favourite part is probably the opportunity to advocate on behalf of my peers, and to create more accountability and transparency that can translate into year-on-year improvements for future students of the department and LSE.”
What is a challenge you’ve faced on the SSLC?
Cecilia: “Collecting meaningful and workable feedback is always a challenge. I think this year in particular has been quite difficult just given the pandemic situation with so many students across the world and all of us studying virtually. In any other year there might be more conversations among peers after class, over coffee, or during study sessions on campus which there simply haven’t been many opportunities for this year.”
What type of person do you think should run for this position?
Cecilia: “It’s definitely important to be organized, to be willing to have some tough conversations with tact, and to be open-minded in order to find middle ground between your peers and the department. That said, I don’t think there is any particular person better suited for the position. If you already have leadership experience – great! – but equally, if you are looking to develop these skills and build confidence and problem solving capabilities, you should also consider running.”