Year One (December 2012 – October 2013): The SPE Nation and The English Circle
The Political Science Club was established on December 12th 2012, after the student representative of the English section of the time, Vlad Costea, has managed to successfully promote his project for a club for the English-speaking student of the Faculty of Political Science. The proposal has been voted unanimously by the members of the Council, thus providing legitimacy for the existence of the club. Another important detail is the fact that the Club was granted a room at the basement of the building of the Faculty of Political Science from 8th Spiru Haret St, so that gatherings and events can take place within the institution.
Originally, the name of the club was SPE Nation – an idea that came from the founder and proved to be catchy enough to become official. Its purpose revolved solely on organizing events in collaboration with institutions that are relevant in the political science field – such as embassies, NGOs, and trans-national corporations.
The first gathering of the students of the English section took place on January 9th 2013, and it consisted of discussions on the rules and purpose of the SPE Nation, and also featured a rock n roll performance by Vlad Costea. The day is notable as, for the first time on the history of the Faculty of Political Science, a group of students from the English section have signed a document that would regulate the activity of a club that targets the English-speaking students.
Also, according to the newly-ratified Charter, an assembly of 12 students (“The Mothers and Fathers of the English Speakers’ Club”) was voted for and they became The SPE Council. According to the Charter, every year of the English section would have 4 seats within the Council.
However, due to a lack on interest of the 3rd year students, the seats were redistributed to the more eager and energetic first year students. Under these circumstances, the 12 students were (in the order in which they signed the document): Cătălina-Alexandra Mamotă (SPE I), Anda-Mihaela Milea (SPE I), Valentina Marin (SPE I), Marina-Alina Dumitru (SPE I), Miruna Mihălcescu (SPE I), Andrada-Maria Petrache (SPE I), Ana Păun (SPE I), Ioana (Julie) Stanciu (SPE I), Cornel-George Tudoran (SPE II), Alexandra-Cristina Visalom (SPE II), Mihai Simionescu (SPE II), and Edward Crețescu (SPE II). The student senator of the time, Adelina-Ștefania Jelescu, has also participated the process and, even though she did not run for one of the seats in the Council, has expressed her will to collaborate with the president and councilors by taking on tasks and prerogatives whenever necessary.
The founder of the club, Vlad Costea, who also served as first president once the Charter was enacted, has validated the results, thus commencing the activity of the SPE Nation Club.
The Councilors would meet for the first time on January 18th 2013, in order to discuss the future plans and strategies of the organization. At the time, various tasks had been passed to each of the 12 members: 3 would become treasurers/fundraisers, 4 would take on the Public Relations duties, 2 would be responsible for Human Resources, 2 others would write projects, whilst 1 would become secretary. It was also established that every student who comes up with a project would become project manager by default. Other discussions involved organizing events with the purpose of raising funds, redecorating the headquarters, designing a logo, and promoting the club among the students of the Faculty. Vlad Costea, the president of the club, could not be present to the meeting, due to the fact that he was due to leave for his Erasmus scholarship in Sweden on the same day. That is why, discussions regarding the designation of a new president that would take on the prerogatives were started.
The next meeting of the Councilors took place on February 22nd 2013, and the discussions revolved around organizing the first conference of the Club, redecorating the headquarters of the Club, creating a visual identity of the organization through a logo, changing the name of the Club (the proposal that was put forward by Edward Crețescu was U.E.D. – Utterly English Democracies), and voting for a new president to fill in the shoes of Vlad Costea (who would only return in June). The proposal for the conference came from Julie Stanciu: it was to be named “The American Dream” and feature Prof. Camil-Alexandru Pârvu as main speaker, along with a guest speaker from the Embassy of the United States of America.
An online voting process took place in the subsequent days, and the two candidates who expressed their willingness to take on the presidential office were Valentina Marin and Cătălina-Alexandra Mamotă. Due to the fact that the decisional quota was not reached within the expected time, Alexandra withdrew from the race, thus allowing Valentina to be come the 2nd President of the organization. All the efforts were to be directed towards finding support for the planned American Dream-themed conference, but also the visual identity and promotion of the club.
At the same time, another poll was conducted in order to find a new name for the club. The proposals were Utterly English Democracies (UED), British-American Student Society (BASS), Anglo-American Student Society (AASS), The English Speaking Community (ESC).
However, during the 3rd meeting of the councilors, which took place on March 4th, three of the proposed names were dropped (BASS, AASS and UED), and another one was brought up: The English Circle. Therefore, another poll was established on the Facebook page of the students of the English section, in order to determine the new name of the organization. During the same meeting, there were talks about dividing in departments, individual tasks have been distributed for the upcoming conference, and it was established that a Facebook page of the organization shall be created. Other ideas that were debated include organizing a scientific movie night and creating a system of student tutoring.
The new name was designated via popular vote from the students of the English section: even though the poll among councilors has pointed to The English Speaking Club (ESPEC) as the winner, the case was different on the Facebook group of the English section, where The English Circle (EC) was the more popular option. The final decision was reached according the Charter, and the popular vote was taken into consideration.
The fourth meeting of the Council of the SPE Nation took place on March 16th 2013, and only 4 members – including President Valentina Marin – could participate. The new name (The English Circle) was enacted, and discussions about the conference about the American Dream took place. The other important initiative has included the creation of a Facebook page for The English Circle and an organizational e-mail address.
On March 25th 2013, the first movie projection of the club took place, as the 1st year students have watched “All the Presidents’ Men”. However, due to technical difficulties the screening ended halfway through the movie, and the attendance was poor due to a snow storm.
Five of the members of the Council met on April 5th 2013, in order to plan the American Dream-themed conference. Also, two new students have joined the Council: Denis Sîrbu and Mohamed Bani Ata, whilst a few others left. It was established that the conference would be a roundtable discussion, with guests from amongst the professors and the Embassy of the United States of America. The presentation text, that was also used to define the purpose, had been the following:
The ‘’American Dream’’ reflects a cocktail of liberty, hope and perfection backed up against the solid wall of a healthy democracy. But how did this great nation become a role model for all democratic regimes? How does the American system work and how is the American Dream perceived?
Our project sets out to unravel the path chosen by the U.S.A which lead to the emergence of the American Dream by exposing political, social and economical factors which apply to the chosen concept by:
– Defining the concept of the ‘’American Dream’’;
– Defining the idea of a solid democracy, by understanding the philosophical, ethical and political spirit of the ‘’American Dream’’;
– Tackling the expression of ‘’moral fiber’’ and virtues by reference to the Founding Fathers;
– Understanding the nature of the American Constitution and its implications;
– Development and Hegemony of the Hollywood movie industry and its relation with politics;
By April 10th 2013, it was established that the event would become a part of the faculty’s festival of political science – Polimateca.
However, the plans did not turn out as it was expected, as by April 18th there were no confirmations from The American Embassy, and the only professor who had confirmed his participation was Camil-Alexandru Pârvu – who was also to moderate the discussions.
On the day of the event, 11 participants had showed up: Conf. Dr. Camil-Alexandru Pârvu (moderator of the roundtable discussions), George Tudoran (SPE II), Miruna Mihălcescu (SPE I), Sebastian Pricop (SPE I), George Popa (SPE I), Vlad Dragus (SPE I), Eduard Crețescu (SPE II), Cătălina-Alexandra Mamotă (SPE I), Andrada Petrache (SPE I), Mohamed Bani Ata (SPE I), and Denis Sîrbu (SPE I).
Whilst the participants have reviewed the event positively, the Councilors were not content with the results: the last two weeks prior to the event had been rather tensioned, as they quickly realized that making plans and putting work into them is not always enough in order to reach the expected goals, and there always unpredicted factors involved. The general weltschmerz feeling resulted into a silent cease of activity, as the exams were quickly approaching and there wasn’t much time left until the end of the academic year.
Year Two (October 2013 – October 2014): The Return of The SPE Nation
First President and Founder of the Club, Vlad Costea, had returned from Sweden in June 2013, and had private discussions with the remaining members of The English Circle Council. By October 2013, it seemed necessary for the project to get a reboot with a new structure and a better defined set of goals. Moreover, a requirement that was not met by the previous Charter was that of mentioning the legal framework within which the organization had to function.
The project was to follow an approach that was inspired by the Swedish student organization, UF – Utrikespolitiska Foreningen, an organization Vlad Costea had been an active member of between February 2013 and June 2013. Thus, the 3 purposes became organizing events in collaboration with relevant institutions from the field of political science and international relations, allowing students of the Faculty of Political Science – University of Bucharest to publish articles on a specialized website that benefits from a large audience and can help develop the writing style of the individual, and helping foreign students (both permanent and exchange) integrate into the academic environment of FSP-UB.
The first event (that was not organized under an organizational name) was the Erasmus Café that took place on Saturday, November 16th 2013. The concept was that students from the Faculty of Political Science – University of Bucharest, would get together with Erasmus students in order to exchange experiences and talk about the political, cultural and linguistic differences. Among the participants were Vlad Costea, Alexandru Cruceru, Miruna Aramă, Bogdan Livezeanu, Alexandru Genoiu, Veronica Ene, Cristina Merticaru, Andreea Phillips, Marius Ghincea, Simone Papa, Victor-Andrei Șerban, Pierre Vauleon (France), Greta Rozenaite (Lithuania), Paul Chevalier (France), and Carlo de Giacomo (Italy).
December 12th 2013 had marked the very first anniversary of The SPE Nation Club, and 100 limited-edition pens were printed and given away to the students of the English section. Also, during the day free cups of coffee were offered at the faculty’s coffee machine. All the funds came from the personal reserves of Vlad Costea, as at the time no funds had been allotted by the faculty for events.
After the success of the 1-year anniversary, a party was set to take place at the original headquarters of the club – the basement of the Faculty’s building from 8th Spiru Haret St. However, the attendance did not meet the expectations, and only first-year students showed up: Simone Papa and Victor-Andrei Șerban. Thus, the celebration was turned into a careful planning for the future identity and activity of the Club.
On Demeber 24th, it was established that a new Charter would be written, so that the activity of the Club can be started sometime in January – after the winter holidays. The names that were proposed for the club were SPE Nation, PPSP (Putting Political Science into Practice), ESPEC (English SPEakers’ Club), and The PS (Political Science) Club.
By January 3rd 2014, a draft for The Charter of the SPE Nation was written by Vlad Costea. The system was similar, with 12 managers – 4 from each year of the English section. The two main differences were the fact that it was written completely in English, the national laws and institutional rules were mentioned (in order to avoid unpleasant situations caused by an ambiguous description regarding The Club’s activity), and for the first time there was a mention of different departments for the managers to get involved in – yet the implementation was still rudimentary (see Article 29). Yet this draft was to lay the foundation of the revived SPE Nation Club.
The elections for the new Council of the SPE Nation Club (from this point on called “The Council of Managers”) were announced upon the return from the winter holidays.
Despite the careful planning, it seemed that the other events did not provide a favorable situation for the elections: the general student elections were announced to take place in the same day. Therefore, in order to avoid confusions, the scrutiny had been postponed for the first week of the second semester. During the inter-semestrial holiday, The Charter had once again been revised, so that it allowed for the establishment of the 3 main departments: Blog/Magazine/Posters/Public Relations, Events, and Student Helpers for the Foreign Students.
The Activities of The SPE Nation Club
Once the elections were over, the mighty Managers and the President have begun work, with movie screenings* and other events:
*Disclaimer: The SPE Nation Club does not own any of the projected materials, as they belong to the respective owners. The movies were shown in accordance to Law no. 8 of March 14th 1996 regarding copyright (http://www.cdep.ro/pls/legis/legis_pck.htp_act_text?idt=10396). Chapter VI, Article 33 i) states that “The presentation and execution of a copyrighted material is permitted during activities of education institutions, only for specific purposes and on condition that the presentation or execution, as well as the access of the public, are free of charge”.
1. On February 24th 2014, the first movie screening of the academic year took place. And since it happened on the Romanian traditional holiday “Dragobete”, the motion picture was Casablanca.
Official Announcement: http://www.fspub.unibuc.ro/home/evenimente-fspub/memo-mondayenglishmovieclub
2. On March 3rd 2014, we have moved on to serious political matters and decided to watch Robert Redford’s classic depiction of the senatorial presidential race in the state of California, in The Candidate.
3. March 10th 2014 came with another Robert Redford classic – only that this time it wasn’t about winning elections, but using all the investigation tools of a journalist in order to investigate a case that would eventually cause the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The Watergate Scandal-inspired movie, All the President’s Men, had been our choice.
4. After having learned about the insights of the candidates’ campaign and the journalists’ investigative field work, on March 17th we moved on to a perspective of a media mogul’s rise and fall. And no, it wasn’t a documentary about Rupert Murdoch’s “News of the World”, but Orson Welles’ masterpiece, Citizen Kane.
5. Our next movie screening was The VICE Guide to North Korea. It was the first time we integrated a trivia game before the movie, and we awarded popcorn and soft drinks to the participants.
6. On March 31st, The SPE Nation Club has decided to take a look at the actors on the international economic stage, with a series of theories regarding the economic recession of the late 2000s. The Matt Damon-narrated documentary Inside Job has given us just the right insight.
Official Announcement: http://www.fspub.unibuc.ro/home/evenimente-fspub/MEMO31mar2014
7. On April 7th 2014, The SPE Nation has proudly joined Polimateca – the festival of political science – with the screening of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Also, for the first time ever, we have invited a guest student from one of the master departments of our faculty: Alin-Valentin Borcea (MRI II). Before the screening, we had the opportunity to listen to his story about being a journalist for one of the most important news channels in Romania.
8. On April 9th 2014, we have participated the conference “Strategic Partnership between USA and Romania”, which was organized by the USA Embassy at the American Corner from the National Library of Romania.
9. On April 10th and April 11th 2014, the Managers of the SPE Nation Club have offered to promote The Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bucharest’s Education Fair.
10. Our last movie screening of the academic year took place on April 28th 2014, as we watched Wag the Dog: a comedy-drama with Dustin Hoffman and Robert de Niro that depicts how far the media can go when the president’s reputation is at stake.