Science - May 26, 2005

Post / Smaller student council

Elections will soon be held again for the student council.

As in previous years it was very difficult to find enough candidates this year, according to a recent article in Wb. That is not surprising, given the increasing pressure to complete studies quickly and the competition from other student association boards and organisations such as AIESEC. There are few students these days who want to take a year off from their studies to devote themselves to supporting the rights of all students. For this reason I argue that the student council should be reduced from twelve to ten members.

In the year that I was a member of the student council it became clear to me that not everyone spends all their time on council activities. Some council members even continued to follow courses. If they had the time to do that, it meant that either they were not devoting enough attention to the student council, or there simply isn’t enough work for twelve full-time members. I have noticed that this year there are student council members that do little council work and others that do a lot.

This is because the different parties are happy with whoever volunteers to be a council member. A candidate that wants to take a year off from studies, but does not possess the suitable competencies, is perhaps accepted because the party is afraid that it will otherwise not have enough candidates to be entitled to a seat on the council. The risk is then, that if the elections are not held, the party will lose a seat. That this is a motivation for accepting a candidate does not seem right to me. The choice should be based on quality and not on quantity.

Of all students that take a year off, student council members cost the university the most money. I’m not in favour of an annual evaluation, but do suggest that the way time is spent should periodically be critically reviewed. In my view this should lead to a reduction in the number of members. For those left over it should remain a full-time job. Then you don’t have to worry about your study, because you can devote yourself fully to your council work.

Finally I think that the quality of the candidates, both Dutch and international, should be evaluated. This might result in no suitable foreign candidates being found for the council. If this were the case, it would of course be a shame, but in my opinion it would prevent ‘token foreigners’ from sitting on the student council, a situation from which neither Dutch nor international students, nor the university, profits.

Rudy Jonker, former student council member

The three student council parties have started their election campaigns. Visit their websites for more information:
www.wau.nl/psf
www.wau.nl/csf
www.wau.nl/veste

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