Hello readers. If you are a student of the University of Mauritius, then you probably know that the Student Union elections are currently taking place. This year, there are a number of parties and individuals, as you’d expect. Each of them is offering us students some hope to improve the campus life. In this post, I’m analyzing the promises of parties, whom many people are considering to be the biggest ones (or at least the two who are advertising the most I guess). These two are: Students Welfare, Students Rights and Students Power. Why they all include “students”? Lol?
Personally, I don’t know any of the ladies and gentlemen in those parties, except one guy in Student Welfare. So you can say I’m not biased towards anybody in these elections. Another issue about me: I generally don’t like politics and politicians. Too many lies. Too many false promises.
For the analysis of main points, I’m confining myself only to the Faculty of Engineering and general student areas. Other faculties are out of my league since I don’t know much about how they work, or the needs of the students in those. At the end, you get some ideas from me, which I think is important.
Let’s start. Student Welfare first, shall we?
As always, there is a pamphlet, filled to the brim with promises. Too much to read in fact. And too cramped. All the parties do this, so I don’t blame them. But hey, make your pamphlets easier on the eyes! ALL OF YOU PARTIES!
Academics: They talk about elimination of red tape. I say it’s impossible. Bureaucracy is invincible, immortal! You don’t kill red tape. Forget it. About past exam papers being placed online, it would be good and quite easy to implement. Just a matter of hosting a few PDF files online. Online means accessible over Internet, not just Campus Intranet like Dolphin is! That’s too lame! Make that area password protected if needs be, but it should be available via Internet.
Library: Update stocks of books? Will I see more recent editions? Considering the lame financial status of UoM, I doubt this is feasible. Let’s wait and see. Concerning extension of loans duration of material in reserve section, this is quite easy to implement. Just some policy changing. Creation of a Media Room? Nice. Hope people don’t turn that into a Cinema room! 😀
Labs: More and better computers? Ahhh stop lying! All parties say that, and at the end, all the computers are still so damn slow! Same goes for “improve Internet connectivity“, “Better maintenance of hardware and software” and “Upgrade all labs with new equipment“. Fake promises here I bet. About the purchase of A3 printers, I saw “Buy more printers and free printing!”.
Sports and Leisure: LAN gaming during holidays? I’M IN! When do we have a LAN night at UoM?? “Increase lockers in Gym” should just be “Increase lockers EVERYWHERE! Lockers aplenty for all!”. “Increase availability of Sports Equipment“. Did you see the price of good quality badminton rackets and shuttles recently? No? Then go find out before writing such things. About the UoM Tracksuits, this would be good. We need more UoM-brand stuff.
Cafeteria: (It’s cafeteria btw, not cafetaria!) This is hopeless. I’m still waiting for more food. Specially more Veg food. But no. “Introduce a chocolate provider machine” which I bet will be empty every time I use it. We also need a mini-cafeteria near Eng Tower! With hot coffee. Hot coffee is a must for all college students.
Increase interaction: Blog space for interaction? NO! We need an official University forum which would regroup all faculties in one place. This would allow much better interaction between staff and students, but also between students of different faculties. This would remove the need for a monthly newsletter and suggestion boxes! Just post announcements and suggestions on the Forum! With a Forum, I guess I just killed most of the points in that section of the pamphlet! 😛
General issues: More sitting accommodation. Yes! I say we turn the Crater into an open-air Cafe! With a Kiosk, tables and all. Regarding the bus shelters, they seriously need improvement. During rainy days, there is hardly enough space for 30 people, let alone the hundreds waiting for buses there! This is a real must. I’d also like the validity period of bus passes to be extended.
FOE: Yes, we need lockers. At last they saw the need for those. Congrats Student Welfare! We’d certainly appreciate the water and coffee dispenser you promise. Specially the coffee dispenser. I bet it would be empty by the end of a single class. Results being posted on ground floor is not really important, but appreciated. Climbing stairs is a good exercise by the way. However, about “new technology for labs“, I doubt it’ll ever happen as long as the financial situation of UoM is not corrected. The photocopy idea is a good one and quite feasible I think. Go for it!
That’s all for Student Welfare. At least for points concerning me directly. Quite a lot of promises, and a few which I think will not be implemented. Specially all those that would require money in one way or another. Unless the SU decides to use those millions they have stocked somewhere for good use, instead of organizing dance parties or whatever. Hell, dance parties in the cafeteria is a lame idea. It’s totally cramped now (with the increase in students) and it smells like a dumpster in there! Find somewhere else to do those! Gym? 😛
Now, on to the other party: Student Rights.
General issues: Opaque door being replaced with translucent? Who cares! The door is never opened anyways. And seeing what you guys do doesn’t increase interaction one bit! Publish expenses monthly? LOL! Why not semesterly? Who would sit there and do that monthly? You don’t have enough work with your modules? The regular seminars will be good for students ending their course and looking for jobs. About the area near library, it really needs to be improved. During rain, there is too much mud there. And there is not enough benches. People are forced to sit on the rim of those tree-boxes. More power sockets for Laptop users in Raised Plaza. Nice one! I’d say “more sockets in lecture theatres” too.
Maintenance of toilets is a must. They emit such good fragrance my nose bleeds! The thing about finding talents is quite a good idea. But why do I get the impression that it will only be about singing? I guess this is only in my head. The ISKCON food stand will be much appreciated, provided the price of food is not too high. Setting up of a SU website? Not enough. As I said above, we need a Campus Forum! More chairs around cafeteria. Yes. Crater into open-air cafe. Just like Student Welfare. The monthly councelling by psychologists is not already available? I thought it was.
Library: Introduction of photocopy machines in Eng Tower. This idea is shared by both parties. I dunno who ripped whom though. “Restore old books for future use“? Lame! Engineering books expire after a while. Their content are updated in future editions, and so future editions need to be bought, not old editions being reused! Lol! Affliation of UoM library with other libraries would be good. We’ll get more books. “Setting up of a groupwork corner“. In Library? No way! Group work implies discussion! Discussion implies noise. Noise has no place in a library! I say, we open specific classrooms in all faculties for use for group works. It’s much easier to implement, and at no cost. “Increase bag shelves” is a must. People keep their bags on the floor, or on the crowded table nowadays. Camera surveillance for bags? Just give the security guard a view of the bags and these would be safe.
FOE: Supply DVD writers to labs. Just supply one or two writers per lab, and it’d be sufficient. “Allow all students to use CISCO labs” is good. This should be added too: “Allow all students to get tons of Virii from there”. Air conditioning needs to be reviewed in Eng Tower and ELT1. It’s either too hot or too cold in those. “Upgrade all peripherals and software in Lab 1.8“, although if this is a must, I smell a false promise again here. There is no money for that. For hardware at least. Upgrading Linux should be free.
Cafeteria: Change the deco? Who cares! It’s the food that counts. Hygene need to be improved though. Student Rights do not mention any Veg food.
Extra-curricular: Music club? There’s one? Outings for each faculty per semester? We already organize that among ourselves. So no need for your help here I guess. Unless you give free transport! Identify different talents. Repeat point here. Regular dance parties? Duh! Waste of time and funds. Specially when these are organized in the cafet. Second end of year party? There are two “end of year” per year now? LOL! It seems Student Rights puts much emphasis on fun and leisure. Too much I should say.
Sports: Buying of sports equipment. More lockers. Water dispensers. Again shared ideas. Again the issue of money not being available.
And finally, Student Power:
First of all, Student Power shares many points with the other 2 I already discussed. So here, I’m only discussing the points that do not repeat. Why? I’m tired of repeating stuff!
FOE: Same old thing about providing new, better equipment. Same answer from me: money. Two interesting points from them: site visits which I really think is important to know how the industry actually works, and what would be expected of us. Then there’s the “Engineering Archive” where we can access past projects and inventions. A sort of museum I guess. This would be both interesting and inspiring.
Senate: Semester-wise exam would be a good thing. We FOE students already do a sort of mini-exam at the end of the semester. They call it a “Test” and do it during “Test week” but for me, it represents an end-of-semester exam. So why not just call it “Exam” and make it count like an exam? So that at the end of the year, we don’t have to revise one whole year of content? Stupid system in my opinion. I don’t know many universities who do End of Year exams. Most do End of Semester exam. Just do your exam and finish off with a semester’s content. It’s easier on the students. So very good point here Power.
Internet connection in all classes is a bit stupid. Just provide campus-wide Wifi. It’s easier for us all. But for that we’d need a good Internet connection which unfortunately is not available yet. Improving sound system. Yes. Specially in ELT1. The system there can be considered dead. The Formal coaching system is great too. It would allow students to get help from 3rd years, and these would act like supply lecturers. Good! “Increase surface area of bus-stop“. Lol at phrasing it. But it’s a must.
Finally. “Covered overhead passage footpath from engineering tower to caravan rouge“. Not necessary. Provide a covered passage from near Pasrelle (Overpass near cafet) to Bus Stop. That area is totally uncovered. And coming from Eng Tower to bus stop, you have no way to remain dry due to that during rain.
Teaching and Learning committee: “Special tutorial provided by lecturers during revision week“. I never had any revision week till now. Lecturers used everything up to last week before exam to clear the syllabus, and at amazing speeds. WTF! “Availability of more GEMs“. Not bad. Wonder what they will introduce.
“Having an up-to-date STUDENTS’ UNION content on UoM Website” and “Launching a 24hr operating STUDENTS’ UNION Forum for students“. AT LAST! One of them listens to me! But not Student Union Forum! Campus Forum please! 😀
Computer Labs: Removing Pentium 2′ and negotiating new equipment. This would be tough to implement! Updating antivirus is a must! I’m tired of seeing my pendrive infected with virii!
Clubs and Societies: Wow! This party is really listening to me! They are promoting some improvement of existing clubs and favoring new ones. They also have LAN gaming, for which I’m in. But no PC at UOM will be able to handle LAN gaming. I wonder where they’ll get gaming PCs. 😀 Then there’s the dreaded “Radio Campus” which I bet will be filled with palab! Keep that away!
Among all the existing parties, Student Power seems to match my expectations more closely than the others. They already have most of the ideas I suggested in their plan. I just hope they implement them. At least they know what’s the difference between a blog and a forum! But alas, no veg food! (Do they all hate Vegs?)
That would be it. The parties seem to have copied ideas from each other and from past promises. Personally, I think Student Welfare seems slightly more promising. Their points are more realistic, and they put slightly more emphasis on studies, compared to Student Rights. I feel that Rights have copied a bit from the past year’s electoral promise, whereas Welfare have managed to come up with some innovative ideas. However, Student Welfare have an professionalism problem. The people in there do not communicate their ideas clearly (they go too fast) and thus fail to convince students when they come to classes. Also, they should dress a bit more formally and classy when they come to talk. First impression counts. I haven’t had the opportunity to see Student Rights or Student Power explain their points yet. So I cannot talk about their presentation performance yet. I’ll update when they do.
Now, here’s some ideas from me:
As I said above, we need a Campus Forum. This is very important to facilitate communication between staff, students and Student Union. Also, through the forum, it’s easier to ask questions. Each course could have a sub-forum, and each course would be a sub-forum of a faculty. These would fall under the Academics section of the forum. Then, when we ask a question about a course, the whole department has access to the question, not just one particular member or members of the staff. We then obtain a broader range of answers. There might be other sections specially for Student Union, or for plain fun and discussion. Like an Online Common Room (chat room?). The forum would also allow students of different faculties to know each other better. We might possibly learn stuff from other faculties, and get to know what their course is about. A forum would be quite easy to implement. Just get some web-space off the UoM server and a database, then just install a free script like PHPBB and secure it a bit to prevent spam and attacks. That’d be it! For people without Internet connection, they can access it via labs.
Now, another issue. Cafeteria. There is just not enough food there. What I’m talking about is food you can take and eat while walking or standing. Cuz who has time to eat! My courses often chain, with no breaks in between. There is not even a lunch time. So we just take a few minutes between courses to eat before going to classes. That’s why we need “quick foods” as I’d call them. One eg. would be the famous “Torsade” or “Pain au choco”, but those are not very stomach-filling. And the sandwiches are too tiny and expensive by the way. And what about turning the Crater into an open-air cafe? Just put tables and stuff there.
LAN gaming? I doubt it will be feasible. Why? Where will the parties get Gaming PCs to run the LAN games? There’s not enough money to buy decent PCs and even get a decent connection, and they plan to get Gaming PCs? Quite laughable I should say. Unless they want us to bring our PCs for tournaments. Then connect it to existing infrastructure there. That won’t be bad. Using a projector for broadcasting tournaments. Yaaay!
Finally, I’ll talk about extra-curricular activities. Personally I’m deceived by UoM. Most universities have loads of clubs like Music Club, Photography Club, Dance Club, Debate Club, Cookery Club or whatever club. Here, we hardly have any active clubs. Hell, the only club I see active is the Badminton Club! What about the others? Because of the lack of clubs, there is a serious lack of activities. Basically, you just come to UoM, study, chat a bit then return home. You don’t learn stuff which would be otherwise important. Eg. With a Cookery club, they might offer basic cooking lessons to those interested. But no, we don’t have any such things. I wonder why there is a lack of clubs. Is it because the procedure to create a club is complex? I dunno. But what I know is that SU should encourage students to form clubs, and provide information and help on how to do so.
That’s it. I think this is one of the longest articles I ever wrote. Please comment! Which party impresses you most? What would you want to see implemented at UoM? What can SU do to improve things? Let’s hear it in the comments!
Ps. Student Power’s Website is here.