Harjus Birk

Harjus Birk: Candidate for Vice President, Academic Affairs


My name is Harjus Birk, and I am a first-year medical student at UCSF running for Vice President of Academic Affairs. As the Vice President of Academic Affairs, I will strive to ensure that we can continue to make proud the UCSF Mission Statement of “Advancing Healthcare Worldwide.” Currently, the Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Medicine programs are part of the ASUC, whereas the Nursing and Physical Therapy Programs are considered separate and operate under the Graduate Students Association (GSA).

The ASUC committee from last year has proposed the idea merging the 5 UCSF graduate programs under one constitution, and I promise to make it my top goal to unite the Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Physical Therapy and Pharmacy programs so that we can all operate as a interprofessional team.

Other crucial goals of mine include: 1. to increase the number of single and group study rooms with whiteboards and computers available for occupancy by students; 2. to enable Kanbar Center access on the weekends so that students can practice clinical skills; and 3. to promote increased Kalmanovitz Library hours especially before midterm and final examinations.

I graduated from Stanford University in 2012 and was fortunate enough to witness the unity that existed between the undergraduate and various graduate programs at Stanford. Considering that UCSF is solely a graduate institution, it is concerning to me that we have not yet fully unified the Dentistry, Pharmacy, Medicine, Nursing, and Physical Therapy programs under one constitution.

 The fact that the first three programs operate under the ASUC and the last two by the GSA creates a literal and also intangible separation among these student programs that is not conducive to unity. Events such as the UCSF Formal have shown that when all the graduate programs at UCSF unite, great things can be achieved on a grand scale.

As the Vice President of Academic Affairs, I will work to bridge this gap between the graduate programs at UCSF and foster interprofessionalism by promoting the collaboration of the ASUC and the Graduate Students Association so that all five of UCSF’s graduate student programs can vote together under one constitution and as a cohesive unit.

Another issue I will work to resolve is the limited access we have as students to study/meeting rooms both in the medical center and in the library, especially during the evening and over the weekends. As a chief liaison with the faculty and you the students, I can serve as a messenger and will strive to increase student access to classrooms campus-wide.

Furthermore, many students at UCSF are intrigued by the Kanbar Center but rarely get to make use of it because it is often closed on the weekends. If elected, I will promote opening the Kanbar Center on the weekends so that we students can practice our clinical skills whenever is most convenient for our schedules.

In summary, as the Vice President of Academic Affairs, I will work tirelessly to ensure that our voices as students will be heard and that most importantly, we will become a unified graduate campus composed of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Physical Therapy programs. I will also push for increased classroom and computer access, so that as students, we will have more rooms available to study.

Last but not least, I will do my best to push for longer Kalmanovitz Library hours, especially on the weekends and before midterms and finals, so that we can have more accessible library time.

I am confident that all of these goals are achievable in the span of one year, and I look forward to acting as a catalyst for positive change at UCSF.

Thank you for supporting me in my campaign for Vice President of Academic Affairs, and I look forward to a great and healthy upcoming year for us all.