Science - April 14, 2005

Student council ready for elections

The annual student council elections will be held at the end of May after all. Until the last moment it remained touch and go as to whether the different parties would have enough candidates. Rector Professor Bert Speelman even had a letter ready in which he called upon all students to stand for election.

The deadline for the names of candidates was seven thirty on Wednesday morning. Last Friday the lists at the voting committee’s office were still so empty that it looked unlikely that elections would be held. The last students were pulled in on Monday and even as late as Tuesday evening. The PSF (Progressive Student Faction, holds six seats) has seven candidates, CSF (Christian Student Faction, holds two seats) has three candidates and VeSte (Verenigde Studenten, United Students) has as many candidates as seats: four.

On Wednesday morning Speelman was not aware that the list contained enough candidates. ‘I had indeed already asked that the letter be sent to all students, asking them to stand for election. The student council is an important body, and that’s why I’m happy that the elections will go ahead.’

The list of candidates is now just long enough to be able to hold elections, but it is tight. A problem will arise, for example if the parties standing for election get more seats than they have candidates. For VeSte, which has four seats at the moment, it would mean that a vacancy would arise.

The abstract nature of the student council is perhaps the reason for lack of interest from students. ‘The large amount of paper work and meetings is not very appealing. And a lot of students don’t really have much idea of what you can achieve as a participatory body in the running of the university,’ says Albert-Anne van de Sloot of the CSF

Cathelijne Stoof of the PSF thinks the new bachelor-master system is behind the lack of interest. ‘Now students tend to say: I first want to get my bachelors, then I’ll see about joining the student council. Before you studied for five or six years, and it didn’t matter when you took a year out.’ Maartje Hogenboom of VeSte understands the lack of enthusiasm: ‘You have to stop your studies for a year, and your parents have to agree with that as well in many cases. Many of the suitable candidates are already active in other student organisations.’

The only thing that could still go wrong is that the list of candidates is not approved. ‘We have to check that all candidates are only on the list once and that they are all registered students at Wageningen University. We also have to check that each list has enough signatures of support from those eligible to vote and the candidates themselves,’ adds Reynout Hana, member of the elections committee. / RK

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