Senate elections as an opportunity

The Academic Senate represents the highest body of the faculty self-government, whose main task is to defend the interests of the academic community. However, its composition has been gender imbalanced for a long time. Take the opportunity of the upcoming elections to help change that.

6 Dec 2023

Karolína Stehlíková (Chair) and Tomáš Weissar (Vice-Chair) address the academic community on behalf of the Electoral Committee. Photo: Evgeniia Tokmakova

Dear colleagues, dear students,

We want to address you on behalf of the Electoral and Mandate Committee of the Academic Senate of the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University, whose mandate will expire in May next year, which means the upcoming elections.

What is the purpose of the Faculty Academic Senate, and why should you want to become a candidate for it?

The Academic Senate is an important body of academic self-government. It discusses and approves internal faculty regulations and directives, accreditation of study programs, the faculty budget, the annual report on the activities and management of the faculty, the appointment and dismissal of members of the scientific council and disciplinary committee, and the long-term plan of the faculty. Senators also elect the dean of the faculty and can adopt resolutions on current events at the faculty, the university, and society: almost any topic of importance to the faculty members and which would otherwise hardly receive attention in the appropriate places can be raised at a senate meeting. Although the Senate does not have the power to delegate its resolution to the faculty leadership directly, it can at least initiate the discussion. And it should be emphasized that the faculty leadership always tries to address every suggestion from the Senate.

How is the Senate composed, and who can be a candidate?

The Academic Senate consists of the Academic Staff Chamber and the Student Chamber. The Academic Staff Chamber shall have twelve members and be open to elected staff members in academic positions. The Student Chamber has nine members and is open to all active students. Membership of the Senate is honorary, non-representative, and incompatible with the office of Rector, Vice-Rector, Dean, and Vice-Dean. The Senate shall be headed by a President elected from the Academic Staff Chamber and two Vice-Presidents, the first of whom shall be from the student body and the second from the academic staff.

As the Senate is a self-governing body whose primary task is to represent the interests of the academic community, its composition should ideally reflect as much as possible its diverse composition at various levels - whether in terms of individual disciplines, academic positions, or degree level, but also in terms of gender representation (and by this we mean - although primarily in the following lines we will talk about female and male categories - also persons who do not identify within these categories).

However, implementing the last point in particular has not been very successful. We have long observed inconsistencies in gender representation in leadership and decision-making positions in our faculty community. The statistics resulting from the gender equality audit prepared in 2021 show that in previous periods women and men sat on the MU Faculty of Arts Academic Senate in an average ratio of 1:5. The imbalance was also evident concerning the nominations submitted: in the last elections, only nine women out of a total of 41 persons submitted nominations for the Academic Staff Chamber, of whom only one was elected; in the case of the Student Chamber, although there was a majority of female candidates (20 out of 35), only two were elected. However, the representation of men and women in academic positions at the Faculty is almost equal, and female students even form a significant majority (75%).

Therefore, the Academic Senate elections are an opportunity to create a more equal academic environment. Suppose we want a senate that represents the entire academic community, including all students, to reflect the diversity of our talents and experiences and different perspectives. In that case, the increased participation of women is important and welcome. In this regard, we would like to follow the long-term goal contained in Masaryk University's Gender Equality Plan 2022-2024 (GEP).

When and how can you apply?

If you are interested in this invitation, please prepare for the collection of nominations, which will open on 15 January 2024 and will run until 25 February 2024. In January 2024, you will receive an email invitation containing detailed instructions on the nomination process, including a detailed FF MU Senate elections timetable.

Don't wait for change. Change is waiting for you!

Karolína Stehlíková (Chair) and Tomáš Weissar (Vice-Chair)
Electoral and Mandate Committee of AS FF MU

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