About the parties
By JOSEPHINE SYLVESTRE and SARAH IACOBACCI | May 6, 2019
You may have started to hear the buzz around the UvA campus as student bodies begin gearing up for the upcoming student elections in May.
This year, there are four parties running for the Central Student Council (CSR); De Vrije Student, UvASociaal, Inter and SLAAFS. The Amsterdammer spoke to representatives from each political party to get an insight into what they each stand for. This instalment outlines the position of the established CSR parties De Vrije Student and UvASociaal. We spoke to Rogier Simons, 22, a Law student who chairs De Vrije Student, and Arend Habbema, 22, the chair of UvASociaal.
Both Inter and SLAAFS are running for CSR for the first time this year, with their articles soon to come in The Amsterdammer.
1. What are you promising for this academic year?
De Vrije Student: Simons stressed the fact that his party is in a tight position, being dependent on other parties to pass decisions. This dependence contributes to their lack of commitment to watertight promises; they are unlikely to gain a majority in the Central Council.
UvASociaal: Habbema answered that “increased visibility for the student parties and student council system” was the main focus of the party this year.
2. What’s your top priority?
De Vrije Student: Blended study is a clear priority for the party. This would make courses at the University of Amsterdam be a ‘blend’ of both traditional and online education, further allowing students to work at their own pace and in their preferred environment.
UvASociaal: Habbema believes that the democratic process is “super important” and that it is “not (well) known”. Therefore, the party is prioritizing student participation.
3. Where would you place your party on the political spectrum?
De Vrije Student: De Vrije Student claims to be “against the left-right spectrum.” They feel it is of limited relevance for student politics since they “are not the Hague”, said Simons.
The party’s focus is broadly liberal, though they don’t see the University as one community. Instead, they “try to focus on individual students to help them participate”, Simons explained.
UvASociaal: Habbema emphasized that UvASociaal is leftist, both socially and economically.
4. How does your party accommodate international students?
De Vrije Student: Despite seeing the advantages of having an international community at the University of Amsterdam where we can learn from each other’s’ cultures, it is clear to the members of the party that the “exponential growth of students has made it difficult for the University.” They expressed their concern with a possible decline in the University’s stature if lecturers are made to teach in English instead of Dutch despite not being able to do so with the same quality. According to De Vrije Student, the party’s goal of blended learning would not be achievable in both Dutch and English.
UvASociaal: They “really appreciate international students” said Arend Habbema as “it means there is more diversity on views” at the University. While the existing international students are welcome, they do see a problem with internationalisation which is the “the increased focus on attracting international students” by making programs in English. This is a problem because some lecturers do not have the ability to teach their subject in English at the same level as they could teach it in Dutch. Internationalization also creates divides in social groups where Dutch and international students don’t mix. This defeats the point of the fact that they can learn from each other.
5. What is your opinion on council expenditure/ budget cuts?
De Vrije Student: “Leave the Hague in the Hague and focus on the issues we can change”, reified Simons.
UvASociaal: “There are more students per teacher now – students have noticed it has affected the quality of the education” affirms Habbema.
6. Is there a motion that another party is pushing for, that you would like to share a rebuttal for? Why it would not be in the students’ best interest?
De Vrije Student: “Some parties are a fan of diversity quotas and we do not think this is the way to stress diversity” stated Simons.
UvASociaal: “We try to focus on the positive.” According to UvASociaal, they will leave it up to their council members to fight against other parties’ members to make sure their ideas are put into motion.
7. How does your party involve the average student in your decision-making?
De Vrije Student: De Vrije Student’s aim is to get to know students, and remain as accessible as possible via social media or their website. The party has members in many different faculties so they have a good vantage point to access a wide variety of students and opinions they may have. It may not be directly about decision making, but the party has received constructive comments from students about how they could be more efficient.
UvASociaal: They coined this a “very complex question,” going to say that they “don’t think there is an average student. We rather tend to look at students as individuals.” So the way that they are aiming to involve more people is to try to build more platforms for students to be able to voice their opinions, so that they can involve these decisions in their goals.
Inter and SLAAFS’ answers will follow soon to help students get acquainted with the parties running to represent them.
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