Although student members of the University Council look favourably upon the protest taking place at the University of Amsterdam’s administrative centre (Maagdenhuis), they do not see any real advantages in appointing a student to the Executive Board.

The University of Amsterdam has now promised the campaigners that it will do so. The University Council in Rotterdam will in any case not actively advocate such an appointment.

Marco Voormolen, member of the University Council, is “not even remotely enthusiastic” about the idea of a student member: “They have such a member in Groningen, and the student concerned is simply used to justify decisions of the Executive Board.”

Warped ideas about performance

“Besides, for us, the problem is not so much in the Executive Board but in the government. The performance agreements and the warped ideas on which they are based are the real problem. A greater say for the University Council would be good, but an Executive Board student member is simply a sop, not a measure that deals with the root cause.” Although Voormolen was speaking for himself, he stated that there were many student members of the University Council who did not see any real advantages in having a student appointed to the Executive Board.

For his part, Roel Pieterman, an Erasmus MC student and also member of the Council, does not have an opinion one way or the other about the possibility of a student being appointed to the Executive Board. “On the one hand, a student may be a good addition; someone who can really think out of the box. On the other, students may not have the knowledge required to hold such a position.

Communication hampered by confidentiality

Although René Karens, Chairman of the University Council, is positive about the idea, he also sees several drawbacks. “By law, it’s already possible to appoint what is referred to as a student assessor to the Executive Board. This student only has an advisory role, he or she does not have the right to vote, and taking this measure does not solve every problem.”

In Karens’ view, a major drawback is the fact that any student member would not truly be able to serve the student community. “Because many documents are confidential, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the student member to inform other students about affairs and proceedings in a completely open manner.”

Moreover, Karens believes that many options for participation in decision-making are already available and that these options are not being fully used. “It is very difficult at some faculties to find people who are prepared to participate in decision-making, and the University Council’s rights are already fairly extensive. We have a right of consent in important matters like the strategic plan, for example.” ES