Frit Forum: “We’re fighting for a better university”

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Yesterday, we spoke to Drude Rohde of the Student Council. Today’s guest in the hot seat is Morten Slabiak of Frit Forum. We talk with him on key issues, how Frit Forum differ from their political opponents and on politics in general.

Frit Forums tre spidskandidater til RUC-valget 2014. Fra venstre ??? Morten Slabiak og ??? Foto: Frit Forum.

Frit Forum’s three main candidates for the 2014 RUC elections: From left to right: Thor Mortensen Morten Slabiak and Mette Knoth Foto: Frit Forum.

You’ll never see him without his coffee mug. Morten Slabiak, student organisation Frit Forum’s main candidate for RUC’s Board of Directors, works from early morning until late these days, like all the other students active in the organisation. He works for Frit Forum from 6:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night, before attending to his part-time work-study job. His studies are on stand-by during the election campaign.

“That’s just the way it is when you work in a small organisation,” he explains, referring to the many more resources available to Frit Forum’s political opponent, the Student Council.

Not that he is complaining – he’s just pointing it out.

Click here to read the election interview with Drude Rohde of the Student Council

Morten Slabiak er Frit Forums spidskandidat til RUC's bestyrelse. Foto: Frit Forum.

Morten Slabiak is Frit Forum’s main candidate for the RUC Board of Directors. Foto: Frit Forum.

That brings our talk to what this interview is all about: politics.

This year, Frit Forum is campaigning on a number of key issues, and we ask Morten to tell us about three of them. The first thing he mentions is the key phrase “Study environment for everyone”. This is the issue Frit Forum has won the most attention for in recent years.

“For the past three years, RUC has placed last in student opinion polls on the environment it provides for its students, and we’d like to change that. One way to do it is to create a better balance between Copenhagen and Trekroner. It simply makes no sense not to have a location for RUC activities in the city, because that’s where most students and teachers live,” is his well-known argument.

Unfortunately, many people are under the impression that this struggle for an official student environment in Copenhagen means that Frit Forum have turned their backs on Trekroner. That is not the case:

“We want a location in Copenhagen to be a supplement. For example, the Student House is a fantastic initiative, and we support the fight to allocate additional resources so it can be completed in accordance with the original plans”.

Take the politics out

Morten points to a somewhat neglected institution at Trekroner, one that deserves better: the Library.

“It’s ironic that we have the best university library in the country, but hardly anyone uses it.”

Before we leave the first key issue entirely, the Frit Forum candidate adds a not immaterial political detail: Frit Forum wants to take the politics out of Student House so that neither of the two student organisations can exert any influence on it, and the same goes for all other student activities. This is an issue RUSK will delve into starting this coming Monday.

Election blog: Frit Forum wants to revive RUC

“Higher academic standards” is another of Frit Forum’s key issues. More specifically, the organisation demands that students get more feedback on written assignments, primarily in the form of an actual mark but preferably also some comments from the instructor.

“We think it’s unacceptable that so many assignments are just marked ‘Approved’ or a ‘Not approved’. This is important because as RUC graduates we compete with people from other universities, both for student jobs and for jobs after we graduate, and managers hiring people for those jobs look at our grades. Secondly, you simply learn more from a marked assignment and feedback.”

Getting feedback is especially important for students from a non-academic family background, because in many cases they don’t have an understanding of what good or bad academic work is.

From my point of view, Frit Forum has a wider reach than the Student Council. Frit Forum was founded by a group of students in a loft during the German occupation. They were seeking a forum where they could discuss freely, and, yes, they were social democrats. While it’s true that our values are very similar to those of the Social Democratic Party, we’re much more than that.

The third and final key issue is the launch of a summer school at Trekroner that RUC should use to brand itself on the critical approach it always prides itself on.

“For example, we are currently at the tail end of a historical crisis that we need to take a very critical look at. Surely, that’s an obvious topic,” says Morten, who studies Social Science and Public Administration.

Click here to read more about Frit Forum’s key issues

The key differences

A battle for Copenhagen as a natural part of the study environment at RUC is not the only issue that divides Frit Forum and their political opponents from the Student Council. According to Morten Slabiak, the very fact that Frit Forum sees RUC development as a political choice marks a distinction between the two organisations: while the Student Council considers itself a special interests organisation fighting for the students, Frit Forum are fighting for a better university. One of the latter’s political battle cries is equal opportunity for all enrolled students.

That is also the reason why Frit Forum does not unequivocally reject the recent so-called “educational dimensioning” as the Student Council did, for example by taking part in a large-scale demonstration at Christiansborg, the Danish parliament.

“I’ll give credit to the Government for saying ‘We don’t want to educate for unemployment’, because saying any different would be completely irresponsible,” says Morten, who adds:

“But I don’t agree with the way the Government are doing it. Universities Denmark has in fact given its support to the concept of dimensioning, but we think that they should also take into consideration the measures the universities have already put into place and which are already beginning to bear fruit. On that point, we agree completely with Hanne [Leth Andersen, the RUC rector –ed.]”

In yesterday’s election interview with Student Council chairman Drude Rohde, she pointed to another big difference between the two student organisations at RUC: the Student Council does not have a party political affiliation, whereas Frit Forum is associated with the Social Democratic Party. But that is a simplification of terms, according to Morten.

“From my point of view, Frit Forum has a wider reach than the Student Council. Frit Forum was founded by a group of students in a loft during the German occupation. They were seeking a forum where they could discuss freely, and, yes, they were social democrats. While it’s true that our values are very similar to those of the Social Democratic Party, we’re much more than that,” emphasises Morten, who finds it strange to see the Student Council campaigning on not being political, but instead on a platform resembling that of a trade union.

Undoubtedly, the two political rivals for the university board could have a good debate on that issue, but that’s not something RUC voters can expect to see. Apart from a brief debate carried on RUradio, your RUSK correspondent has been unable to find any debate broadcasts on the issue this year. We suggested that Morten could have invited the Student Council to attend the “Valgbar” election event at the Jolene Bar in Kødbyen, Copenhagen’s old meatpacking district, but they didn’t even bother to invite them.

“I doubt they want to take part in anything that goes in Copenhagen,” says Morten, in yet another reference to the best-known political difference between the two student organisations.

Voting in the RUC elections closes on Wednesday, 29 October, at 12:00 noon.  You can vote here.

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