News - December 8, 2016

What should the new student union start by doing?

Marijn Flipse,Annie Berendsen

After five years without one, Wageningen has a student union once more. The Student Alliance Wageningen (SAW) was set up in response to student protest in May against evening classes. So what would Wageningen students like the union to do?

Illustration: Henk van Ruitenbeek

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Yorick Vink

Master’s in Urban Environmental Management

‘Of course you can never be against a lobby organization. But I’m curious. When I heard about the student union, I thought at first it was all about the issue of evening classes. Beyond that I thought there would be a lot of overlap with the Student Council (SC). Now I know that the two coexist in other university towns too, so it’s obviously possible. I don’t know much about it but I would imagine a union can be more militant. On the other hand, it might have a bit less muscle than an SC. I think the main thing is for the student union to make clear what its role is, and what distinguishes it from the SC.’


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Maaike van Slagmaat

Bachelor’s in Molecular Life Sciences

‘I’m glad there’s a student union again. A lot of associations have joined it and it makes it possible to speak with one voice. Maybe then students will get listened to. The new union should make sure no evening classes are introduced after the pilot. No students want them. I hear nothing but complaints about them. I’m a member of Argo myself, and ours is a team sport. We train in the evenings and if one of us has an evening class none of the team can train.’


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Alyssa van der Linden

Bachelor’s in Animal Sciences

‘Well, so I didn’t even know there was a new student union. Maybe they should do more to make themselves known. Put up a nice stand somewhere, for example, and hand out sweets. Yes, sweets are sure to attract students, I think. A clear flyer with all the information would be helpful too. I do hope this union will keep going and not give up. On the issue of evening classes, they shouldn’t stop until they achieve their goal. Last week there were problems with the train and there was only one bus going to Wageningen. There were an awful lot of students who had to get to the university. We even phoned the bus company Syntus but they didn’t send any extra buses. A union has more clout if there are problems with public transport. Oh well, there are always issues they can take up. As long as they don’t give up.’


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Margreet Heida

Bachelor’s in Animal Sciences


‘I am pleased that there’s a new student union. It is important to speak with one voice to the university. That way it is clear what students want. At the moment the influence of the lobby groups we’ve got is minimal. They are too small. What they’ve got to do now is protest loud and clear to prevent evening classes from being brought in. And they should make sure they are really visible. I do hope they will really represent student opinion and not just the views of the people behind the union. Another issue that’s important to me is to be able to resit exams even if you didn’t fail. You need certain grades, if you want to go abroad for instance. Sometimes your grade is not quite good enough. I think it’s allowed at every university except Wageningen. Actually I also think it’s important that students should be able to take their exams in Dutch, even if their programme is taught in English. There are plenty of things the union can stand up for.’

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Tim den Duijf

Bachelor’s Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning

‘I think it’s a good idea to have a student union. I think the internal issues at the university are already dealt with by the Student Council, but it’s the interests of students beyond the university that don’t get enough attention. There is plenty of room for improvement there. Take for instance the problem of the endless stream of cyclists at the traffic lights at 8.30 on a Monday morning. Or the gridlock with bikes and cars around the Jumbo. Perhaps they could even help students who don’t belong to a student society with finding housing. I think a student union would work very well here. It might also help to shake students up a bit politically.’


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Elske Zwart

Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Health

‘I’d say a student union can certainly contribute towards improving the academic environment. Take for instance the need for more work stations, workspace, and more accommodating opening times for university buildings. Why does the library only have 300 workstations for 10,000 students? It is definitely the place with the best atmosphere for working, much better than all those computer rooms. I have a lot of extracurricular activities so I’d like to decide for myself when to study. I feel the university has a nine to five mentality. After six o’clock there’s nowhere you can go, whereas personally I can study far better in the evening or at weekends. The student union could fight for that.’