In the academic year of 2019-20, I would love to have the opportunity to help improve the School of Divinity. I’m proud to be a member of the school and think it is important that students have a say in how it is run. I have consulted with students to form my main initiatives which I would like to implement next year.
I would like to propose an interfaith forum. I would arrange meetings, talks and socials to promote interfaith relations in the School of Divinity. New College and the School of Divinity can often be seen as an area of the university just for Christians or Bible study. This is a typical assumption based on the school’s past and some of its courses. However, I would love to work hard to make it clear that the School of Divinity is open to all. People of all faiths and none are welcome to study in New College.
As well as having meetings related to interfaith activities, I would generally like to make the School of Divinity have a more social atmosphere. We will continue to hold the annual New College Ball, but we could also hold various fundraising social events throughout the year to reduce ticket costs, making it accessible for all. I would also like to emphasise that social events within the school are open to all, including joint-honours students as well as academic and support staff.
From speaking to other students, I feel changes need to be made in regard to the accessibility of books and articles. There should be a school-wide policy on the accessibility of books and articles required for courses. All lecturers should provide accessible reading lists with online copies of readings. This is the only way to make course materials suitable for all. For courses where this only a few copies of a physical book available to share between students, particularly short-loan books, this is just simply not appropriate for some students, particularly parents, carers and students who need to commute into Edinburgh for university.
Through speaking to 4th year students, I feel that more dissertation support needs to be in place. Dissertation supervisors should work to a similar standard as it appears the enthusiasm of the supervisor can greatly affect a student’s confidence and morale. Furthermore, I would like to introduce a set time period for supervisors to reply to students’ emails, as I have heard of students waiting weeks or having no replies from their supervisors. Additionally, I would like to work with academic and support staff to see if there is any way timetabling in fourth year can be changed. Two classes in each semester is simply too high a workload.