SEOUL— On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the Associated Students of Minerva (ASM) will launch the revamped working groups for the full academic year. The Quest talked to Alberto Martinez de Arenaza, one of the three ASM representatives for the Class of 2019, to learn about how the new working groups function. Here is what you need to know.

What are working groups?

A working group is just that: a group of students working on a topic or initiative on which they can rally around and push for changes. Importantly, working groups have more power than any random student initiative. They work with the administration and will aim to be part of Minerva’s decision-making process on issues from academics, to student experience, to organizing large Minerva events.

Why do we need working groups?

As you may know from here and here, communication about issues in the Minerva community is not ideal. Working groups are one attempt to solve this. If students care about their academics and college experience, and if they have ideas, working groups can be a ‘booster’ for their ideas, as Martinez de Arenaza puts it. The voice will be heard by the administration, and concerns or ideas can be discussed with other interested students and staff to turn the ideas into solutions for the issues that are important to students.

Why working groups and not other channels?

Working groups are useful for both students and the administration. The ASM reports that Minerva staff like this unified forum for communication and discussion and that they respect it more than other types of student feedback. The ASM hopes that, over time, working groups will naturally evolve into a necessary and formal part of the Minerva decision-making work flow, so that student input occurs before implementation of ideas, not as powerless feedback afterwards that is less easily incorporated into Minerva’s processes.

How will working groups operate?

Working groups this year are designed to be entirely bottom-up. The ASM will suggest a few groups, namely for academics, student experience, work study, community inclusion, health (mental and physical) and housing. However, students will have to take the lead and form the groups, and the ASM also encourages students to form groups on other topics they care about.

To lead one of the suggested or potentially new working groups, a student must register the working group on or before Wednesday, November 1, 2017, and present the group at the launch event hosted in Seoul. If no one steps up to be the lead, the working group will not exist.

The student lead will be paired with an ASM representative to initiate the launch of the working group. The leads will be important for the launch, but will have no other leadership responsibilities as the working group should move forward as a unit from there onwards. The lead will help with organization, but is not supposed to be the only driving force of the group.

The frequency of meeting and the amount of invested effort in each group will rely entirely upon the group members and which topic they choose. For example, an SXP group may meet only monthly to reflect on events and discuss new long-term ideas, while a group focused on immediate improvement of a certain course (such as the Capstone!) could meet frequently and work intensely, but then dissolve as soon as the curriculum is improved.

I’m in the Class of 2021, what is this and does it matter to me?

The ASM will send out communications about student government for the Class of 2021 and their participation in working groups soon. In general, some of the topics like work study or university-wide academic policies concern everyone and M’21 students could therefore help the related groups. For more city- and class-based issues, working groups unique to the classes will be more practical.

What do I do?

  • If you are passionate about a community issue and want it solved, sign up as a lead for a working group here.
  • M’19/M’20: Attend the working group launch on Wednesday, Nov 1, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm at Seoul HQ. There will also be food. More info on this here.
  • Read The Morning and be on the lookout for ASM communications for news on which working groups will exist this year
  • Sign up to be part of a working group from Wednesday, Nov 1 until Sunday, Nov 5.
  • Tell your friends you always hear talking (or complaining!) about community issues about this mechanism for creating change in the community.
  • For the ASM’s own information on working groups, check out this info sheet.