Why do the Dutch care about their associations so much?

Even though Student and Sport associations are always relevant in the Netherlands, with the recent debate about funding schemes for the boards, the topic is as hot as ever. However, it is not always clear for internationals what’s the fuss about. EM surveyed Dutch students to find out.

Corinca Zwijsen (23), Master student at the Erasmus School of Economics

“I work in the board of the dance association. I’ve always been enthusiastic about promoting our events, so it was logical for me to join. Besides, it is beneficial for my future career. It is an opportunity to show that I am worth something and improve my communicational skills. The work takes more time than I expected, but I would still do it even if I didn’t get paid. However, I don’t think it’s fair that some boards get supported more. Although, some definitely need increased funding. For example, the rowing club, Skadi, has to invest a lot in the cleaning of the swimming pools. But in this case, I guess it would be more logical to finance that directly.”

Nishant Ramsaroep, (22) & Ruben Timmermans (23) Master students at the Erasmus school of economics

Nishant: “I used to be a member of the tennis association board. I joined because I thought it was fun and I enjoyed working with people. I got paid a small amount, but money does not play the main role here. The participation in extracurricular activities and membership in associations is important because it looks good on your CV. You get experience in organizing things and learn how to manage your time more efficiently.”

Ruben: “I still think that the board members should be paid properly. Free sports are nice, but at the end of the day when you have to go do your groceries it comes down to money. It makes even more sense after the cancellation of studiefinanciering. Some people were free riding and using it as an extra source of income. So associations make the financing more focused and keeps the incentives for those who really work for it.”

Paula Metselaar, (19), Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Erasmus University College

“I am working as a match secretary in the Volleyball association board. I did not have special motivation. I just had extra time during my first year of studies and wanted to contribute to the community. This seemed like a great opportunity, since I get to arrange the practices and communicate the training schemes to the whole team. There are also regular meeting all over the Netherlands, so I get to meet a lot of new people. No matter how exciting it is, I believe board members have to be paid. Yes, the work is for your own benefit. But I could also get a job for those 20 hours a week instead. I wouldn’t accept hourly wages, but costs of traveling have to be covered at least.” KS