By ADELE MOLTEDO | March 2, 2020
Photo: The 2018 Student Council elections at Roeterseilandcampus. Isabel Bonnet / The Amsterdammer
Since the last student council elections in May 2019, the student parties at the UvA have been up and running in various councils. The main council being the Central Student Council (CSR from Centrale Studentenraad in Dutch) comprised of 14 members. We met with one of the representatives of the CSR to delve deeper into their programme for the semester and get to know them – an update to what The Amsterdammer has done during the election cycle last Spring. We interviewed Pelle Padmos, a 19-years-old student from the PPLE faculty. He is a member of the party Inter and works at the CSR. We discussed his job in the council, what he does for the students, and asked him for an update on the promises his party made during the last election cycle.
What is your job at the CSR?
“My job at CSR involves mostly public relations and policy. I am also the treasurer and therefore I make a budget and make sure all expenditures of the CSR are in line with our goals and that they do not exceed the money we get from the University. Public relations is mostly about getting students engaged and involved in and with the University and councils, including voting for the student council elections and attending events.” Pelle added that one of the most important parts of his job is to let students know what the CSR can do to improve their student lives by voicing their opinions and concerns.
How does the CSR benefit students?
He highlighted that the CSR benefits students by protecting their rights to a good education and to a University where they can feel safe. “We make sure the University prioritizes the well-being of students:” he gave the examples of the Council’s work to improve the canteen, to push for sustainability and to facilitate the creation of swift plans for alcohol and drugs policies. However, he also underlined the fact that many students are not aware of all this.
Speaking of the students, do you think the CSR is visible enough?
“No, it is for sure not visible enough. Most students do not know we exist, let alone what we do and can do for them.”
Do you have plans to improve the visibility of the Council?
Pelle stated they plan on doing this by “organizing events and getting big on social media.” Right now, for example, they have the Toilet Paper – the piece you can see on the inside part of the stalls’ doors. They constantly try to be more visible.
What are the other plans CSR has for this semester?
“You could potentially fill a whole paper with this question. Our main topics however are a more sustainable University, an accessible and safe University and a University of the highest quality.” Pelle also mentioned that they wish to see the participation and engagement of students with their student councils rise, so they will try to make that happen as well.
Your party, Inter, promised that you would make the university more sustainable in your election campaign. What are your plans for this semester in this regard? “With the Inter delegates we are working hard on the UvA Green Paper, which especially looks at how we as University can limit emissions.” For example, they are working on a sustainable travel policy for UvA employees and also looking into options like solar panels for alternative energy sources. “Luca (Babovic, a general member of the CSR)1 is especially working on a more sustainable canteen, reducing the amount of food being thrown away.”
Quality of education: what are your plans with this regard?
Quality of education had been one of Inters main points during the May 2019 election campaign and now Padmos explains how they aim to concretely achieve this in the coming year. “The quality of education is much discussed in topics like numerus clausus (a tool used to limit the amount of students who may join a university, usually for feasibility reasons), which we see as a good device – if used in a proper manner – to increase the quality of students joining the University and thereby the quality of their education.” They also look into how programs are internationalized, and to what extent internationalization can improve quality of some programs’ but decrease it in others. Therefore, they try to make sure the quality of education stays on the highest level possible.
Finally, how many people from each party are there in the council?
“I am not sure at this moment. I know that Inter has 3 representatives in the CSR [out of fourteen]2, but parties are almost non-existent anymore in the Council. Everyone acts on what they believe is the best course of action in regards to what they think the students at the UvA would benefit. We all work together.”