Simo started a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration a few years ago. In the second year, he also took Philosophy and Law. He has now successfully completed the bachelor’s in Public Administration and is also doing a master’s in Management in the Public Sector in The Hague.

Kaapse Maria

During the past year, he somehow managed to combine that with a seat on the University Council. “One of the things I advocated as a council member was that the second camera be removed during online proctoring. And I made efforts to get more study spaces. That’s something we’re also discussing now with the Rotterdam municipal authority. I’m a big believer in off-campus study spaces, because you’re not going to solve this problem here on campus. During examination periods the study spaces are filled to peak capacity, and then they’re empty the rest of the year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philosophy programme arranged for students to study at Kaapse Maria, the study association’s favourite pub. So I want to see if this is something we could arrange at all the faculties.”

Another important issue for Erasmus Alliance is diversity and inclusion. Simo: “Something you see a lot among the students concerned with this issue is that they choose just one aspect. They promote women’s rights, for example, or the interests of LGBTI, or students with a migration background. We want to represent all the groups at the same time. That’s because if you don’t include everyone, it could end up being detrimental to the other groups. That’s why we pursued diversity in our own Erasmus Alliance team. Our list represents almost all the world’s religions. We also have diversity in terms of political orientation. Because you see, for example, in society that people with an alternative opinion are silenced. We also notice this at university, for example during corona.I believe your political orientation doesn’t matter. It’s something we have to deal with together.”

Equal opportunity

Everyone regardless of their background or opinions is welcome to join Erasmus Alliance. That sounds like casting a wide net, but Simo still thinks this is what defines the party. “Yes, equal opportunity for everyone. Literally. If you don’t provide all students and employees with equal opportunities, they can’t reach their full potential and the university won’t operate the way it’s meant to.”

Erasmus Alliance also has ideas for strengthening students’ rights. One of their most concrete proposals is to have a student assessor join the Executive Board. “I myself am a student member of the Crisis Management Team (CMT), where I can bring in the perspective of students. This function was almost taken away from students this year. I have fought hard for this, so that students actually get more influence and control, instead of less. Students should be able to participate in discussions at many more levels, including the highest administrative level. ”

Rainbow zebra crossing

Erasmus Alliance feels its different view of diversity and inclusion is what distinguishes the party from Aeffix and Liberi Erasmi. “My impression is that Aeffix has a strong focus on international students and LGBTI students. I feel that by doing this, they leave other things out of consideration that are also important for those same groups.”

Simo disagrees entirely with Liberi Erasmi’s view regarding the arrival of a rainbow zebra crossing at the Mandeville building. “They say they’re against the rainbow zebra crossing because not everyone agrees with it. By prohibiting such a crossing, it sounds like they’re saying ‘even though we tolerate you, we don’t want that to be visible.’ So what’s the next step? You won’t be allowed to express your religious beliefs on campus? Should professors avoid all socially controversial issues? I also think they’re too focused on rebelling. ‘We’re against QR codes,’ they say. But why is that and how do you plan to resolve that? In my opinion their approach is too simplistic.”

Opposes the party system

In spite of the fact he himself established a party, Simo has never supported the idea of introducing a party system in the council. “You end up with factions that oppose each other. And individuals who aren’t backed by an affiliated group will disappear from the council. In any case, it’s a done deal and you have to work with it. If we didn’t establish a party now, we would be much less prominent. But I support scrapping the party system at some point in the future, or at least giving individual candidates a stronger position.”


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