Things are not looking good for ISOW. The international student society has been surviving on one committee member for months. Dutch students will have to come to the rescue.
ISOW has one office and four classrooms behind the Auditorium. But that is a long way from Forum. What is more, the building is for sale. A few courses are still being given but only on the initiative of the volunteer teachers themselves. The website has not been updated for months. Even so, Shushimita is still optimistic about the future; she might not have a plan, but she has plenty of ideas. 'The most important thing is that people have a place to go where they can meet and relax. And maybe share a meal. But it is also important to increase our visibility, so I would like to have an office in Forum.'
One possible solution is collaboration with International eXchange Erasmus Student Network (IxESN). This club was originally set up for Erasmus students but these days everyone is welcome. In addition to the familiar International Kitchens, IxESN organizes excursions throughout the Netherlands, holds an introductory drinks party every term and rents out bikes. These activities form a good match with the ISOW activities.
IxESN has had four part-time committee members, all Dutch, since September. 'But we will probably be getting some foreign students on the committee as well', says secretary Berry van den Pol. 'However, we are going to make sure we keep at least two Dutch students because that happens to be very handy.' He is enthusiastic about the idea of collaboration between the two societies, but ISOW will have to grow again first. 'We are busy arranging our own office in the KSV building; we could share that. It would be useful because we mostly organize activities that compliment each other. But now ISOW is doing so little there's not much to collaborate on.'
There is also support from the university. 'It is our explicit wish to help the society. But it is important for ISOW to demonstrate its added value with respect to the other societies', says Liesbeth van der Linden, Education & Research policy officer. In addition, it is difficult to build up a society for foreign students because they are only here for a short period and are often less able to afford a delay in their studies than the Dutch students. Van der Linden: 'It would be good if they had Dutch students in the committee again. A student society needs time to grow. That is difficult for them because the effort put in by students is so variable.'