Science - April 15, 2004

Foreign student candidate at top of the list for student council elections

If the distribution of power among the student parties in Wageningen remains the same, foreign representatives will hold a quarter of the seats on next year’s Student Council. The Progressive Student Formation even has an American student as leader on the electoral list.

The Progressive Student Formation (PSF) currently holds four seats. If it retains these in this year’s elections, there will be two foreign students as PSF representatives on the Student Council next academic year. In fact, five of the first nine candidates on the PSF list are non-Dutch. “If we win six seats there will be three foreign students in our faction, and then nearly all continents will be represented,” comments Francien Peeterse, chair of the PSF.

The United Students Party (VeSte), which currently occupies six seats on the Council, has one international student in its top six candidates, and the seventh is also a foreigner. The Christian Student Party (CSF) has also found one international student who is prepared to stand for election, and will be on the Council if the CSF wins more than two seats. While all previous representatives of the CSF have been Protestant, the international candidate is Catholic, but according to Bob Douma this is not a problem: the attitude of the candidate is important, not the name of his or her belief. “Catholics are also Christians,” he adds.

There have never been non-Dutch speaking international students on a Dutch Student Council before. An international Student Council will mean big changes for the paper pushers at the university Head Office. All notes and memos that are relevant to the Student Council will have to be in English, and meetings will also be held in English. This is good news for the education committees, who have been campaigning for all written information from the Head Office to be published in English.

In the past the international students have had contact with the Executive Board through their own International Student Panel (ISP), which only had an advisory function. The ISP received little in the way of information, and was rarely asked for advice or its opinion by the Executive Board.

It remains to be seen whether the international candidates will also attract large numbers of international voters. Last year there were a number of international candidates, but lower down the lists, and they scored little success. Francis Dake was number eight on the list for VeSte and received 29 votes, worth only a third of a seat. Marsha Grant was the highest placed international student on the PSF list, and received only three votes.

Voting takes place this year between 27 May and 6 June, through the student administration website. You can access the parties’ sites through the Onderwijsnet.

Guido van Hofwegen

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