Student Parliament candidates from all the parties campaigning in this election joined in a debate on Tuesday titled «Social responsibility and internationalisation at UiO.» Split into two topics, the debate focused on both increasing internationalization at the university, as well as what it means to be engaged in a global academic scene. The candidates were in agreement on most topics, though knowledge about how to follow through on their goals varied.
The first half hour focused on the university’s responsibility to engage with academia globally. The candidates from the Leftist Alliance, and Conservative, Labor, and Green Parties were all in agreement that UiO should share knowledge and engage with other countries, even and especially with students from repressive regimes or areas where freedom of speech is an issue, such as China.
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In the second half, representatives from the Science, Progress, and Liberal Parties, as well as the Guest List and Internationalista were asked about inclusion and internationalization. There was little debate.
Many candidates attempted to tie internationalization back to their campaign platforms, with mixed results. Synthia Zaman from the Guest List repeatedly mentioned the infamous sky bar proposal and having a Vinmonopolet on campus as a way to get international and Norwegian students to mingle. Amanda Haugnes Rygg emphasized having follow up for students beyond a buddy week.
Hertzberg of the Progress Party brought up his party’s main issue, the Student Parliament budget. The Progress Party’s number one campaign promise is to get rid of the Student Parliament altogether. Hertzberg said he would use the Parliament budget on inclusion for international students instead, by subsidizing social events and venues.
Mentioning that many international students complain about high prices in Oslo, Hertzberg said he would subsidize the price of beer, if that was something students wanted, in order to encourage socialization. «What I am offering is German prices, British prices, at the student pub, and that is a quite good deal,» he said.
Internationalista’s Marianna Khodabandehlou showed more detailed knowledge about international students’ issues beyond socialization, and emphasized the need for more academic support, such as more Norwegian language courses. She also said there is a need for more English study programs, at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, that student housing is segregated and must be more inclusive, and that buddy weeks should be integrated.
According to Khodabandehlou, rectifying those issues would be a service not only to international students, but also Norwegians: «You learn, you find a common ground, and you get so many perspectives and new ideas, how to become better yourself, and how to make this university better,» she explained.
The election ends May 15. All students at UiO are eligible to vote.