New Dion board members elected, Eikrem candidacy may have increased participation

Øyvind Eikrem was not elected to the Dion board, but his candidacy may have contributed to higher voter participation.

From top left, newly elected president, Gabriela Kazimiera Warden. Vice president Diana Giovanni Magnano. Board members Mobina Mobini, Gabriel Andy Szalkowski, Davit Gigilashvili, Anastasia Skarpeti, Fei Song and Subham Jain.
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Dion, the interest organization for PhD candidates, post-docs and temporary scientific employees at NTNU, closed the polls in the election for the new leadership on the evening of April 20. Now the results are ready.

- We are very happy with how the election has gone, almost twice as many people voted as last year, meaning more people are engaging with Dion. In the elected board we also have all three NTNU cities represented. Last year was the first time we had someone from Ålesund, Dion president Regina Paul tells Universitetsavisa.


This is the new board


Gabriela Kazimiera Warden (Trondheim)

Vice president:

Diana Giovanni Magnano (Ålesund)

Board members:

Mobina Mobini (Gjøvik)

Gabriel Andy Szalkowski (Gjøvik)

Davit Gigilashvili (Gjøvik)

Anastasia Skarpeti (Ålesund)

Fei Song (Trondheim)

Shubham Jain (Trondheim)

She says she also thinks it is good that two of those elected have previous experience, and she is happy that even though the gender balance is not quite fifty-fifty, it is close.

This year there were 2786 eligible voters (temporary scientific employees). Voter participation was 6.71% (187) in the election of the president and vice president. Participation reached 6.96% (194) for board members . Last election there were 2680 eligible voters. 3.13% (84) participated in the presidential election and 3.77% (101) for the board.

Possible increase from Eikrem candidacy

Before the election UA reported that Øyvind Eikrem, the former associate professor, who NTNU attempted to dismiss, was running as a board member. As part of a settlement with the university Eikrem now works as a postdoctoral researcher.

- Do you think having a well known and somewhat controversial candidate in the election meant more people decided to participate?

Regina Paul says this years election was a success.

- That is a good question, I think it is possible that it did. Increasing participation has also been a goal for us, and we have worked hard to increase our outreach this year as well. So I hope that we are seeing the results of that. I think you have to know about Dion, first either way, in order to know that Øyvind Eikrem was a candidate so the two are not necessarily independent of each other, president Regina Paul answers.

This board will have a shorter term

The election kicked off Wednesday with Dions annual meeting. Two major changes were made in the organization's statutes. The start period for the Dion board was changed to January. This means there will be another election in only eight months.

- Unfortunately this board will have a shorter period, but the change is necessary. It will make everything easier with handling financial matters as well as make cooperation with the national organization, Stipendiatorganisasjonene i Norge easier, as they would have the same terms, explains Paul.

Easing up on language requirements

In addition they have changed the language requirements, previously the president had to be proficient in Norwegian (approved Norwegian level 3 at NTNU, Bergen test B2 or equivalent) to chair as president and vice president. This is because it is the official meeting language at the university. At present one of them has to be, meaning those less proficient in Norwegian can run for the top positions.

Ideally, they both should be proficient in Norwegian. If one of them is not fluent in Norwegian, at least one other board member has to be, so that there are at least two board members proficient in Norwegian in the board.

- We have seen in the last years that temporary employees from outside of Norway have to a bigger and bigger extent become the more active participants in Dion, Paul explains.

Eikrem may end up in board due to Norwegian requirement

Dion has two seats in the research committee and the innovation council at NTNU. There they meet with, among others, the Pro-Rector for Research and Dissemination and Pro-Rector for Innovation. These meetings are in Norwegian and are in a large part the reason that the language requirement exists.

In the newly elected leadership of Dion there are two people proficient enough to meet there. If there were fewer, the statutes of the organization might mean that a Norwegian speaker, such as Øyvind Eikrem, might have become part of the board instead.

With many temporary employees unable to meet the Norwegian language requirements for these meetings, Paul fears this may be an issue in the future, and that Dion could lose these seats if no one is able to meet it.

- We wish these meetings could be in English, the current Dion president concludes.

Updated 25.04 11.13: Changes where made to the final board after the publishing of this article. According to the Dion president: «There was a mistake in the board composition as one candidate wasn't eligible after all.» The article has been changed to reflect this.