New electoral system for the University Council finally implemented
The turnout for University Council elections has been disastrously low for years. Now,…
Which is ironic given that the University Council actually conceived this experiment last year to increase the council’s visibility and mandate. No elections means a big loss for both visibilility and mandate of the council members. For years, Erasmus University has had the lowest voter turnout of any university in the Netherlands (12.3% in 2018). The idea was born that plenary elections could provide a solution. “We were fairly optimistic that this could change things for the better. Indeed, it was a hot topic in the Council – and one that we put a lot of effort into,” says Barmentlo. She calls the cancellation of the student elections ‘very disappointing’.
In effect, the various student members all land a seat on the Council without having to be voted in first. This not only undermines their mandate; it doesn’t exactly help them to become familiar faces on campus either. Barmentlo: “If there had been elections, students would have voted for them, and they would have been in the public eye a bit more. The only way that the other students will know who they are now is when the Council members set up an active information campaign or students decide to attend a Council meeting.”
Most faculties continue to be represented
On the positive side, councillors’ fears that the plenary elections would lead to a more uniform body in terms of composition proved unfounded. The 10 new student members form a fairly decent cross-section of the EUR faculties: three of them come from RSM; two from ESSB, ESPhil and Erasmus MC; with ESHCC and ESE each contributing one member. The only faculty that lacks representation on the Council (for the time being at least) is ESL. Those interested are welcome to contact the central polling station: elections for the remaining two seats are expected to be held in the summer.
Barmentlo intends to talk with university administrators about the communication and timeline for these elections. “For many students, this registration deadline is quite early: they need to have their plans for September ready in February. But in many cases, students don’t know what they’ll be doing then. We also hope the communication department can be of more help when it comes to raising awareness of the elections. We’re already talking about the options.”
Staff representatives will have elections
The University Council will be organising elections for its staff contingent, incidentally – although the number of candidates for this job is fairly limited too. In contrast with the students, staff representatives are still elected on a faculty basis. No candidates have stepped forward at ESL, ESE, ISS or Erasmus MC – which means that these seats will remain empty. RSM and ESSB will be organising elections. Here, the online ‘voting booth’ will open on 17 April. Students and staff can also cast their ballot for various faculty councils as of that date. In the case of ESPhil, ESHCC and University Support Centre, there are as many candidates as there are chairs – making elections a moot point there too.