The Student Council represents all Wageningen students. So who is on the Council and what do they do there? Resource invited the leaders of the three parties to get on their soapboxes.
text Luuk Zegers photo Guy Ackermans
Camille de Regt-Harvey (21), United States (United Students, VeSte)
‘I believe that students don’t just learn a lot from their studies, but also definitely from the things you do on the side. Things I’ve done have included an exchange to Iceland, being actively involved in KSV Franciscus, and organizing a pilgrimage to Spain. All nice things that are educational at the same time. That’s how I’ve ended up on the Student Council.’
‘My focus is on student welfare. We had the ‘Surf your Stress’ week in November, and we are evaluating that now so that we can make it even better next year. We’ve also arranged that students will soon be able to borrow an RSI set in the library. Increasingly, students work on their own laptops, which is not good for their posture. The university sells RSI sets cheaply, but not everyone buys one. It makes quite a difference if you can borrow one free from the library. The Bongerd Sports Centre offers its staff RSI lessons. Why don’t they do that for students? I’m going to look into that.’
‘We are also looking at the food and drink available on the campus, from the catering outlets to the coffee machines. Since September, we have been documenting what is on sale now and what the wishes and needs of staff and students are. Ultimately we want a healthier and more sustainable food supply in the restaurants, kiosks and dispensing machines. All the contracts will be ending within the next two years, so this is the right time to consider which direction we want to go in. There will be a ‘Future of Food and Beverage@WUR’ event on 5 July to hear the ideas and wishes of students and staff.’
‘In the end, the Student Council is there to represent students. From making sure computer rooms stay open in exam weeks because the library is too full, to hoisting the rainbow flag, to starting a sustainability fund, and a whole lot more. When I first started on the Student Council, I didn’t have much idea how to get such things off the ground. I have learned that step by step.’
Harm Ligtenberg (22), Christian Student Party (CSF)
‘After my Bachelor’s in Soil, Water and Atmosphere, I didn’t want to go on to a Master’s straightaway. I considered going to live with a host family in Russian to learn the language. I find Russian culture very interesting, with writers such as Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and composers such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. I think we are given a very one-sided picture of Russia in the Netherlands. I thought it would be nice to go there myself and really immerse myself in the culture.’
‘But when I saw that CSF was looking for new candidates, I decided to postpone my Russian adventure and apply for this. I think it’s important for Christian students to have a voice. I like to be a contact person for Christian students with questions. I also do little things like making sure the overview of churches in Wageningen on the WUR site is up-to-date, and organizing a Christmas dinner for international students who stay in Wageningen over Christmas. That doesn’t mean my Christian background is always very obvious: it doesn’t really come into it when we are discussing the issue of the level of English.’
‘The differences between the parties are not that big at a day-to-day level – in the end we are one Student Council. And as such, we have advisory rights on certain matters. We give our opinion, which represents the opinion of the student population as a whole. We also have the right of approval on a lot of dossiers, which means we have to give the green light for the Executive Board’s plans on those topics. That means we can genuinely do something for students by saying: we don’t agree, unless points A, B and C are included in the plan. That’s how the Student Council works as a kind of watchdog defending the interests of students by asking the policymakers critical questions.’
Xiaoxiao Peng (24), Sustainability & Internationalization (S&I)
‘I have a strong passion for sustainability and I wanted to put sustainable ideas into practice. That is why I joined the Student Council. Within the council, I look at how we can make operations in this university more sustainable. A couple of years ago, the SC initiated the Keep Cup campaign. Thanks to this initiative, people get a discount on coffee if they bring their own cup. By doing this, we saved on 30,355 disposable cups in 2019 – a real success. So now I am working on a Bring Your Own Lunchbox campaign to decrease the amount of disposable plastic used in some restaurants and salad bars.’
‘When it comes to sustainability, you have the three P’s: people, planet, profit. In this society, I think there is too much focus on profit and not enough on planet and people. To make WUR’s education more sustainable, there should be more attention for people and planet. To do this, I initiated a sustainable education project, with the goal of creating a long term vision on sustainable education at WUR. This must be the vision of students and the teaching staff, so we will start by facilitating meetings between students and teachers to reflect on our current education system and figure out if more sustainable education is necessary, and if so, how to achieve this. Of course, sustainable education is a complex topic, so this project is now only starting. And it will continue after my Student Council year is done.’
Student Council (vote!)
The Student Council (SC) is a central participatory body of Wageningen University. It consists of 12 students, who are elected every year. The SC meets regularly with students, study associations and student associations to collect input. Six times a year, the SC meets with the Executive Board to discuss topics such as mental health, student rights, career preparation and waste reduction on campus.
Currently, there are three parties in the Student Council: Sustainability & Internationalization (S&I), United Students (VeSte) and the Christian Student Party (CSF).
** The next Student Council election will be held from 25 May up to and including 28 May.
Every student who is entitled to vote will receive an email with a link to their electronic ballot.