Year after year, a new group of enthusiastic student council members convened before Marieke van Iterson. Her task was to tell them that in a big organization, things could not always be changed at a quick pace.
'Most of the new student council members were not always equally familiar with the organization in the university. This often brought forth thought-provoking ideas that kept you alert. In all these years, I had to be careful not to restrain their enthusiasm too much. Many of the ideas in fact would be brought up again after so many years, but not always as easy to carry out each time.'
The student council has changed somewhat over the years. 'The first big change took place a few years ago when international students could occupy seats in the council. The entire Works Council had to switch to English. At the same time, international students also imparted their own colours to the council. I get the feeling that students over the years did things in different ways; real action preparedness became somewhat less. When they would have formed picket lines from the start, issues were later handled first with negotiations and milder actions, such as the gathering of signatures. Maybe there were differences among factions.'
New candidates for the council were more difficult to find as the years went by. 'There used to be enough choices. Candidates had to strive for a position within the council by way of job applications. Nowadays, the council has more difficulty to fill the twelve seats. I think that students now face more pressure from their studies and no longer want to spend a year in a management position. Those who are wondering whether or not to join the Student Council should therefore just do so! You will get to learn a lot about a big organization, and also about working together, political balance and strategy. Each year, I saw students undergoing a growth process. Never had I come across anyone who had regrets.'
The Student Council defends the rights of university students. The twelve council members work on and make decisions about education issues and facilities for students. The council consists of two factions: the Progressive Students Party (PSF) and the United Students (Veste). Both have their own objectives, but the differences are often not obvious.