Blog & Opinion
‘Yes We Can!’ The election circus: halfway through
I wrote my last blog – The election circus – on 22 April 2017. At that time, Leonard and I were encouraging as many students and staff as possible to nominate themselves for seats on the Staff and Student Councils.
The results of the first elections for a more empowered participation in the decision-making process weren’t bad: 68% of the seats will be filled. The General Council will have 87% of its seats filled, while three-quarters of the seats on the sub-councils and two-thirds of the seats on the degree programme advisory committees with both students and lecturers as members will be filled. Elections for 20 councils or degree programme advisory committees will be held because there were more candidates than seats, but most candidates are sure of their positions because they had no opponents.
I am very pleased with this massive interest among students and staff in our Staff and Student Councils. Actually, The Hague University of Applied Sciences has established a record in this regard. Never before has a Dutch university of applied sciences had 284 candidates for its elections for Staff and Student Councils, although I should also add that most of the other schools haven’t yet organised elections for their degree programme advisory committees.
We are pleased with the 150 students and 134 staff members who nominated themselves as candidates – and with the efforts of the management as well as the students and staff members of these councils. The Executive Board and the General Council worked together on strengthening the co-determination process at THUAS. Each had its own reasons for doing so: the Executive Board wanted to strengthen governance, and the General Council had the interests of the counter force in mind. Both of us were committed to encouraging a sufficient number of candidates to come forward. Our Clerk’s Office (still temporarily expanded) and the electoral committees deserve a big compliment for all the work they have put in. The information (including English translations) available at the portal about the Staff and Student Councils was more than doubled. The organisation of the elections is in very good hands with this crew. The Clerk’s Office has the expertise needed for the smooth running of the elections and the provision of information. The ‘Strengthening Our Staff and Student Councils’ project has now been in operation for almost a year. Various service departments have contributed to this. Together, these service departments and the Clerk’s Office have worked tirelessly on making sure that these elections were publicised and run successfully – as you can see for yourself at the portal. I would like to take this opportunity to thank both the Clerk’s Office and the service departments.
The Executive Board and the General Council are still discussing the content-related, organisational and administrative responsibilities for supporting the newly strengthened Staff and Student Councils. The General Council and the faculty councils want to have all of these councils (including the degree programme advisory committees) supported by the Clerk’s Office, which possesses extensive expertise in this area. The Executive Board and the deans favour having the faculty offices support the faculty councils and degree programme advisory committees. The General Council fears, however, that this would threaten the independence of the Staff and Student Councils. These decisions should be made before the summer so that the new Staff and Student Councils can get off to a good start in September.
Democracy requires a commitment to the long haul. The nominations were just the start. Now, the most interesting phase of the democratic process is before us: the campaign period. Elections will be held in 20 councils. Students and staff members of The Hague University of Applied Sciences: You can vote, so make use of this privilege! Your fellow students and staff members have stuck their necks out by stepping up to the plate. Now, don’t leave them in any doubt: GET OUT AND VOTE. Voting takes place from 7 through 14 June. Yes We Can!
Mathieu Heemelaar is Chairman of the General Council and a Social Educational Care lecturer. He keeps a blog on the importance of counterforce.