By: Bhavisha Dave, Staff Writer
A group of students from Russia’s Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University spoke about their experiences with their university’s student government during a presentation at Thursday’s International Student Association meeting.
The students, who have been visiting Towson as part of a two-week trip, touched on subjects including the political parties in Russia, the Student Coordination Council, the history of their labor unions and what it’s like to be an average college student at SPEU.
“There is a lot of propaganda on both sides,” International Initiatives Program Coordinator Jeremy Sanders said. “In the U.S., what we hear about Russia, and what I’ve heard from them — what they hear about the U.S. — sometimes isn’t accurate. So this was a chance for there to be a people to people diplomacy.”
SPEU Student Union Chairman Dmitrii Fedosov and Vice Chairman Evgenii Solovev led the presentation.
The main point of the presentation was to speak about the student council and student unions, which act as representative bodies similar to the American Student Government Association. The SCC consists of members of student unions from public universities all across Russia.
It unites 400,000 students and 308 student trade union organizations, according to a PowerPoint slide included in the presentation. The representatives are from the district Student Council delegated to each SCC.
The main SCC office is located in Moscow. Every year, the SCC puts on a competition for student trade union organizations’ student leaders. It is comparable to the American leadership camp in which they compete in knowledge, law, public statement and debate. The competition is held near the Baltic Sea.
The students also talked, more specifically, about the Electrotechnical University Student Union, which resembles a syndicate in which the main purpose is to protect student rights. The campus consists of nine educational buildings and the resident buildings are scattered throughout the city of St. Petersburg. If a problem were to arise in one of the resident buildings, the student would go to the student union with their problems or concerns, they said.
Sanders and his colleagues organized this program and took care of things like living arrangements. They wanted to make sure the visiting students got a chance to interact with Towson students, he said.
The visiting students have been observing classes, going to basketball games and eating in dining halls in an attempt to give them the full TU experience.
“We try to get them as involved, in those two weeks, like splashing into the U.S.,” Sanders said.
Towson University has had a relationship with St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University for over 20 years, and Towson students have visited their campus.