Karger, who is a Master’s student of Finance and Investments himself, explained on Zoom why he created this mini-series. “I’m fascinated with the great ecosystem of student organisations here at EUR. We really have a lot of organisations that actively organise activities. This large number of ‘successful’ organisations clearly creates added value for the university, since they can teach students the kinds of things that the university doesn’t pay enough attention to.” So far he has discussed with four founders how they – partially thanks to S4S – managed to get a foothold in that crowded ecosystem of student societies, and he is planning to conduct more interviews.
What can students learn from these interviews?
“Motivation. After all, the type of student who founds an organisation is not all that different from other students. All these founders were just regular students who had some ideas about things that could be improved at the university. I think everyone has the odd thought about things that leave some room for improvement at EUR and that these interviews do a good job of showing us that we can actually realise those ambitions. You see, this university is open to innovation and does its best to help people further detail their innovative ideas.
“In addition, it shows how broad the range of available student organisations is. If you’re interested in research on psychedelic drugs and the psychological effects they have, you can join a student organisation whose activities revolve around that. Although the subject is a bit of a taboo, there is a lot to be said, from a psychological point of view, for more academic research on those types of drugs.
Did you yourself learn anything from these interviews?
“As the project manager, I’m obviously pretty familiar with the subject matter, but I did learn that the organisations do a lot more than I thought. The founders I’ve spoken with so far are active in fields ranging from coding to public speaking. Since we didn’t only discuss the organisations themselves, but also touched on the societal impact of their activities, I’ve learned a little more about the disciplines they focus on.” Karger smiles, then says, “No, I didn’t expect to learn so much from it myself.”
What do you think is missing from the range of activities currently offered by student organisations at this university?
“I think technology is absolutely fascinating, but quite a bit is being organised in that field already – for instance, by Turing Students. I think the main thing we could focus more on is politics. Of course there are study societies that host a few events every once in a while, and Studium Generale has its own events, too, but that is nothing compared with the steady flow of famous people who present lectures at the University of Amsterdam, such as Slavoj Zizek and Jordan Peterson. A student organisation that focuses entirely on facilitating political debates and events would be quite the asset for our university. Students4Students is better able to supervise that sort of thing than study societies, since we aren’t stuck with a board that has its own views on what it seeks to achieve. If anyone has a good idea, we can help them and make sure it’s realised, in a flexible manner.”