Blog & opinion
28 September 2017 • by Fady Mikhail
My road to…the General Council
My road to…the General Council
In my ‘road to’ series, I’m describing the road I’ve had to take – not just physically but also mentally – to get to certain destinations. This time, it’s about how I managed to land a seat in the General Council at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
Last year – my first year here – I ran into Rudy (yes, that Rudy) at a photo booth. He told me something about the General Council and that he was a member. I thought this was interesting at the time but that, before that, I’d better focus on my first year. I wanted to complete my foundation programme in one year.
The weeks flew by without even thinking about the General Council. I didn’t know exactly what the General Council did. I didn’t need to know more because it wasn’t really relevant to me.
Helping out senior secondary vocational education students In December 2016, I participated in the Ministry of Education’s StudentLab intended to help senior secondary vocational education students move up to a university of applied sciences. What kind of plan could we come up with to accomplish this goal? I definitely wanted to take part in this project since I had taken this step myself and hadn’t found it that easy. Unlike what it should have been, it involved a lot of twists and turns along the way. This project made me even more aware of the fact that the educational system needed improvement. Our plan was to make some big changes in the Academic Career Coaching classes. In my personal opinion, students should be getting a more individualised approach. This could only lead to a win-win situation. (OK, OK, I know this is a touchy subject and I’m getting distracted, but I’ll come back to it another time!)
Getting involvedAs the year 2017 got under way – and as I got more into this project – I felt more involved in the school. I was getting to know more people here. I felt more sure of myself and liked what I was doing. Academically, I was doing better and better. I had a feeling in my bones that I wanted to do even more for students, and definitely for my school as well.
Sometime around April or May, Rudy approached me again about the General Council. ‘Maybe you should think about becoming a candidate.’ This was serious. I started looking into this and decided to do it. I managed to arrange for two alternates in my class. But I wasn’t the only one: to represent the Faculty of Business, Finance & Marketing, there were three student candidates and only two seats available. This meant I’d have to campaign!!
Flyers in the WCs
But the question was: what was the best way to conduct my campaign? I knew almost no one in my own faculty. I’d only been there a year. This was really scary. The candidates were allowed to make flyers, so I thought: the people in my faculty have to know who I am. I made flyers and hung them up everywhere around the Strip – even in the men’s WCs . Still, I had my doubts about this approach because I didn’t know if it would catch on among the students.
The voting results came in half-way through June. There I sat in the Speaker’s Corner with sweaty hands. It was the moment of truth. And it was good news: I was elected with about 40% of the votes. But it was also a shock to hear that only 5% of the students in my faculty had voted…I hope I can do something about this next year. The importance of voting is so underestimated. Making your voice heard might not seem that cool, but it’s really important. It’s actually a privilege.
The new General Council was installed in P 4.30 at 1:08 pm on 30 August. During this meeting, the regulations were discussed. You could also sign up for one of the three committees: Finances, Personnel & Organisation, or Education and Student Affairs. You can probably guess what I chose. Yep, that’s right: Finances. Not that I’m an expert in this field: instead, I wanted to learn more about it.
By now, I’ve been in the General Council for a whole month. I’ve already attended a few meetings and even served for the first time as chairman of my committee. Now that was pretty exciting! As chairman, I’m in charge of the meetings and have frequent contact with the Executive Board. This means I’m even busier than ever but I’m still having a great time. It’s really a wonderful experience!!
The need to listen
It’s no secret. Our school is going through some tough times. But I’m also confident that we can weather the storm. Remember the ‘seven lean years and the seven fat years’? If the Executive Board and the General Council really listen to each other – including their critical comments – it could very well work out. In any case, I’m going to do my level best. And what about you?
Just remember that old saying: nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Right now, I’m going to pack by bags for Colombia. Next week, I’ll be joining representatives from the Municipality of The Hague at the ‘One Young World Summit’. Adios!!
PS Keep those e-mails coming in 😉