We find Nicky in her orange Cedo Nulli vest in the boardroom of the student association on the 15th floor of the Mandeville building. Besides sitting on the faculty board as a student member, she is first and foremost a full-time board member of Cedo Nulli – specialising in Educational matters. “I couldn’t have put my gap year to better use. I’m gaining all sorts of hands-on experience that I wouldn’t get in the lecture hall.” And Cedo’s Education board member is automatically also a member of the faculty board.

What kind of thing do you do in this capacity?

“You could say I play the supervisory role within the faculty board. During the meetings, I do my best to promote the interests of the student body. And to determine what the students’ interests are, I talk with the student representatives on the faculty board and the programme committees.

Lately, for example, I’ve been receiving a lot of complaints from Psychology students who are required to complete examinations in English – even though they themselves are Dutch. I raise an issue like that within the faculty board. And our dean is developing a new faculty strategy and is organising a number of roundtable meetings in this context. In a case like that, I ask him whether he would also like a roundtable meeting with students, and find students who would like to participate in something like that.”

And do the other board members listen to you?

“Yes, that’s working out very well, fortunately. Of course, from time to time, a board meeting will include discussions on subjects that have less to do with me as a student member: HR policy, for example. So, I simply keep quiet a bit more.

The board of our association also attends the faculty board meetings. So, my attendance can feel like overkill occasionally. The meetings are attended by students who promote their fellow students’ interests as a group. And I basically do the same thing, but in an individual role.”

So, what’s the difference between you and the student contingent on the faculty council?

“They monitor the board and make plans as to what they would like to improve or change within the faculty. Whereas I supervise the actual implementation of policy, and occasionally offer input of my own. I serve as the ‘check’ that guarantees that students’ interests are actually kept in mind during implementation. The student council members check and monitor whether students’ interests are taken on board during the policy’s development.”

How much time do you spend on this?

“We meet one morning every four weeks, and the association board members attend the faculty council meeting once every six weeks. So that works out fine enough. Apart from that, I devote most of my social and ‘professional’ time to Cedo. I suspect that this year, I’ve spent around 90 percent of my life on the association. During the day, you’re busy with board work, and in the evening, you have socials and fun activities. It’s lots of fun, but it can be demanding sometimes. When you do a year of board work, you’re going to risk overstretching yourself at some point – everyone says so.”

And, have you got to that point yet?

“Yes, every board member runs into it somewhere along the way. I’m actually in the middle of it. At the beginning of the year, I gave it 120%, but I couldn’t keep that up of course. Particularly when you consider your daily routine: board work during the day, and all sorts of activities that you’re expected to attend in the evening. At one point, I had to take a break from it all, so I temporarily transferred some of my tasks to my fellow board members so I could get some rest.”