Adrian Stein will be reporting on ASM issues throughout this semester for Class of 2019 and Class of 2020.

SEOUL – On September 23 the ASM election board announced that Skye Hersh, Urmila Janardan and Alberto Martinez will be representing the Class of 2019 this fall semester, with Gili Karni, Erika Sloan and Vinicius Miranda as their Class of 2020 counterparts. The new representatives are set on redesigning communications within Minerva and creating better staff-student feedback mechanisms. The hope is that with more feedback and improved bottom-up information flows, students will better be able to take action on issues.

“Part of the campaign to engage students is radical transparency.”

Before the ASM starts to change communications though, they want to understand how students and staff talk—or don’t talk—at present.

Many students do not engage with university issues; collective action is restricted to only some parts of the community. The voter turnout for this year’s ASM election was only 57% across classes: (67 out of 115 in the Class of 2019 and 85 out of 153 in the Class of 2020).

Janardan mentions, “the majority of people probably haven’t interacted with [the ASM].” The new leadership wants to first understand why this is the case, and then try to reach those who “are not taking the initiative,” as Martinez puts it.

Part of the campaign to engage students is radical transparency. The ASM claims that it welcomes student scrutiny. The members explain that they want to be less about a ‘perception’ of getting things done, but more about taking action specifically based on students’ wishes. They hope that transparency, including internal meetings and positions held in talks with the administration, should improve students’ interest in its workings.

“With new leadership comes new ideas, and this fall’s ASM representatives are seeking student engagement to bring their ideas to fruition.”

While the ASM is motivated to achieve greater results, this also puts the baton in the hands of the student body. The first space offered to discuss ideas on student issues and communication reform are office hours, weekly on Thursday from 14:00 to 15:00 in the Minerva residence lobby in Seoul. The ASM has its community website and email address, and will also share updates in Minerva’s official daily and weekly bulletins, The Week and The Morning. The ASM is also putting town halls, newsletters, design sprints and a continuation of the working group format on the table. The improvements will be an iterative process during which the representatives aim to engage students in every stage.

The first step the ASM is taking beyond the platforms available last year is to launch an ASM Facebook profile called ‘Minerva ASM’. This is part of a larger effort to reform the ASM’s own student-facing communications to make them more closely integrated with how students communicate with each other. The profile is intended to serve as a unified voice for the ASM in the Facebook debates which often erupt in various community groups.

As hot topics in the community are often discussed online and out of reach from administration and faculty, the Facebook profile is an attempt to create an impersonal, institutional voice that can represent the position of the ASM as a whole. The ASM also emphasized that any student should feel free to tag ‘Minerva ASM’ in relevant Facebook threads. The profile is meant to respond to queries from students of all classes and be a central node for student-ASM communications.

With new leadership comes new ideas, and this fall’s ASM representatives are seeking student engagement to bring their ideas to fruition. If students join the initiative, it is hoped Minerva will get more robust and inclusive feedback mechanisms.

With the help of all these changes, the ASM is also aiming to make its structure more sustainable from one leadership to the next. The first two classes must now turn this into reality before the Class of 2021 holds their first student government elections in the spring semester, which will enlarge the ASM and its responsibility even further.