“The General Council is the very bedrock of our union’s foundation and democracy. You, the members, have the opportunity to decide which direction the Union should make and the General Council is the entity that makes your dreams and visions for LundaEkonomerna become a reality. If you want to make a profound and long-lasting impact for the Union, then apply to become a member of the General Council.”
– Adam Åberg, president of LundaEkonomerna.
Have you heard about the General Council before? If not, there is no need to feel ashamed. I was totally unaware of what the General Council was and how it worked during the start of my studies at LUSEM. But as the election to next year’s General Council is upon us, in which the members of LundaEkonomerna can cast their vote on different candidates (You can also become a candidate if you would like to!), now is the time to find out a bit more about what the General Council is. Therefore, I met with Adrian Schmidt, who serves as the current speaker of the General Council.
Adrian, what is your role as the speaker?
-My role is essentially to work for the General Council, to ensure that the debate is relevant, effective, precise and that the decisions being made are according to the statute of LundaEkonomerna. But I am also in charge of the contact with all candidates, nominated and opposing, as well as planning and executing the meetings.
What role does the General Council fill within LundaEkonomerna?
-It is very much the highest decision-making body within the union. As such, even the board answer to the General Council. The General Council elect most of the project leaders within the Union, they also elect the board and they vote on the budget and different propositions. Basically, all major decisions has to go through the General Council, which makes them the highest decision-making power within the Union. Many people do not know about the General Council, however. When I began my studies at LUSEM, I became an active member within LundaEkonomerna almost straight away, but it took me a year before I first heard about the General Council, and then another six months to understand what they actually do. I believe it is a problem within the Union as it looks like today, many people not knowing about the General Council and what they do. We try to do something about this by reaching out to the members of LundaEkonomerna and spread awareness about the General Council.
You could go to a meeting of the General Council and realize that it is very much like the Swedish parliament, for example?
-Yes! Actually, our organization is overall very much like the Swedish society in general. People often ask me how our union work and I usually draw that parallel, at least when it comes to the decision making process. We have the board, who are very much our government. And then we have the parliament, the General Council, who have the ultimate power.
Let me guess- you are the Andreas Norlén of LundaEkonomerna?
-I guess so, although we do not have much politics going on within the General Council. I think that is good, as per statue, we are a non-political organization, and we can focus on other more important things than internal conflict, such as improving the Education.
What are your responsibilities as a member of the general council?
-As a member of the General Council you are part of the highest decision-making body within our union. And with that, it comes a great deal of responsibility, but it is a great opportunity to learn and to actually have such a great impact on the Union. One of the most important things for the members is to come there and try to be as objective and transparent as possible. Many of the members within the General Council today have been active within the Union earlier, or are still active. It could be a risk that the members are very interested in one specific committee or position, and have strong opinions when it comes to that position. What I have seen, however, is that many of the members are doing a great job in turning away from that and basing their decisions on what they see during the sessions. That is something I find very important.
How does the General Council differ from all other committees within LundaEkonomerna?
-The General Council is different from all other committees within LundaEkonomerna as we only meet, on average, once every month. With that said, there might not be as much work as there can be within other committees. But the sessions can go on for quite some time and you need to read up on all the candidates that have applied for a specific position. Which means that you might not have to do any work at all for a couple of weeks, but the week in which the General Council is being held, you could have some work to do. For example when the board is elected, when there are many candidates to read up on.
Do you need any previous experience to be able to apply to the General Council?
-Absolutely not. I always encourage everyone who wants to hold a position to apply. An understanding of the union is always good, but we must remember that there is not a project leader recruiting people this time. It is an election by our members and as such, it is the only properly democratic chosen position within our Union where all members can express their opinions regarding the matter. I would also like to mention that some of the best points I have heard in the General Council is from people who necessarily not have any previous experience within the union and come in with a fresh view, and dare to question how we usually think and how we work. I feel that everyone who is interested should apply. And then of course, you learn a lot as you go along. No matter where you come from or what you have done previously. You SHOULD apply if you are interested, and if you have any questions about it whatsoever, come to me! I love answering questions about the General Council, I really care about it.
Why should you vote in the General Council election?
-Because it is an opportunity to make an impact. It is so easy for someone who perhaps is not that involved to believe that the board makes all the decisions within the LundaEkonomerna, but it is actually the General Council who makes many of the decisions. So this is your chance to influence the union and select the people you want to see taking all of the decisions, and we very much push that people that apply to the General Council describe themselves and what they want to do, in order to give all members a good picture. So this an opportunity to push for the future of our union and what you feel is important. For example, if you want the union to focus more on internationalization, you can vote for one candidate that emphasizes internationalization. I find that quite wonderful. Voting in the election of the General Council is something I believe far too few people have done historically, and if all of our members would vote in the election, that would have a great impact on our Union as a whole.
You have until the 17th of May to send in your application. If you feel that the General Council might be something for you, do so. And do not forget to vote!