Erasmus University will host a Participation Day on Wednesday, 20 April. Staff and students will be allowed to enter into a discussion with the Executive Board and members of various advisory boards in C-Hall.

“You can say a lot about Erasmus University, but one thing you can’t say is that people are very interested in participation,” said Kees van Paridon, the Chairman of the University Council. This is one of the reasons why the University Council and the Executive Board are hosting a Participation Day this Wednesday.

Between 1.30 and 5pm, staff and students will be able to express their ideas and suggestions, but also complaints and concerns, for improvement to the Executive Board and members of the various advisory boards. The public meeting coincides with the university elections, which have started on Tuesday, where students of several faculties are able to vote for candidates for faculty councils and the University Council.

Room for contrary opinions and different visions

The Participation Day is part of “The Good Conversation”, a project that was established in response to the Maagdenhuis protests of last year and that is intended to increase the level of participation at all levels of university governance. After several meetings held last spring, a number of conclusions having been drawn about how to increase the level of participation, and a proposal having been drawn up for improving the prerequisites for good participation at all faculties, Wednesday afternoon’s public Executive Board meeting will be a new step in the project.

According to Kristel Baele, the Chairwoman of the Executive Board, particularly the way in which council members are provided with information and the opportunity to enter into an open debate leave room for improvement. “These things often go well between the Executive Board and the University Council, but we hear that they don’t always go as well at the faculty council level or at the programme committee level.” Baele regards the Participation Day as a practice session for an open conversation. “We must create room for contrary opinions and different visions. We hope to create such room by going into the meeting without an agenda and without any documents to be discussed.”

More powers for programme committees

Van Paridon was quick to point out that the lower-level advisory boards will be granted greater powers. For instance, faculty councils were recently granted the right of consent over the general aspects of the faculty budget, and parliament recently passed a bill granting programme committees greater powers. “As a result, those councils will have to be better informed and equipped from now on, so as to be able to carry out their duties in the future,” Van Paridon stated. He regards the Participation Day as a way to show future members of faculty councils and programme committees what they could achieve.

No all-encompassing policy documents

For her part, Baele considers this an important objective as well. “What we wish to show on Wednesday is how much can be achieved through participation.” In addition, the Chairwoman of the Board considers the Participation Day a way to keep her finger on the pulse. “In addition, we’d like to receive some ideas from the academic community.” In the last few weeks, people have been able to share ideas through e-mails or notes in the C-Hall. “If the ideas put forward in the e-mails are anything to go by, I’ll receive a great many useful proposals on Wednesday,” Baele told us. “No all-encompassing policy documents, but that wasn’t our intention. But plenty of ideas that can be applied very quickly and have concrete applications.”

Round-table conversations on seven subjects, ranging from work load to the quality of the EUR campus, will be held in the C-Hall on Wednesday afternoon. Furthermore, people are invited to pitch ideas to improve the university. The person pitching the best idea will win a dinner for two at Erasmus Pavilion and will be invited to execute the idea alongside Baele.

The university elections will be ongoing until 27 April (inclusive). Cast your vote through