“Eight hours for co-determination is not enough”

The eight hours allotted to the members of the University Council each week to carry out their co-determination role is, as they see it, insufficient. Yesterday an increase in the number of hours was pushed for, mainly by the student factions. President of the Executive Board Robert-Jan Smits suggested that the UC members were getting too involved in the detail of the dossiers the UC handles. In December the UC and the Executive Board will sit down and discuss this matter further.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

“Don't drown in the details,” the President of the Executive Board Robert-Jan Smits urged the eighteen members of the UC yesterday during the council's online meeting. A short while earlier Naomi Amsing, member of student faction Groep-één, had argued passionately for an increase in the number of hours that council members have available each week to do their work.

At present this number is eight and, says Amsing, it is now out of all proportion with the hours council members need to invest in order to do their work properly. “On average the members of the student factions spend some 24 hours a week reading documents, becoming well acquainted with the relevant information, in fact-finding related to certain subjects, and preparing and attending the various meetings,” said Amsing.

More complex

According to Amsing, over the years the dossiers and subjects addressed in the monthly UC meeting have increased greatly in both number and complexity. “Whereas we are keen to help the Executive Board further refine its policies, and in our view this involves more than simply asking a couple of questions on a subject,” said Amsing.

According to Smits, the council must focus on the main issues and ask "strategic questions" about them, not delve into the information available in too much detail. “Yet at the moment we are seeing this being taken too far,” said Smits, who then specifically addressed the student members. “Once you leave this university, in your future working environment you will discover that there, as here, you cannot address all the issues involved. You will have to make choices based on the number of hours you have available for a particular task.”

Amsing wondered aloud whether the Executive Board is actually aware of the huge quantity of work the members of the UC do each week. “It really isn't about the details in certain dossiers," said Amsing. "Significant subjects come up each month and the faction members are spending a lot of time familiarizing themselves with them. The future reform of our education, for example.”

The Executive Board was yesterday not yet prepared to make any promises about any increase in the number of hours. It was agreed that this issue would be discussed again in December. In concluding, Vice President Nicole Ummelen expressed her appreciation of the efforts and the work of the UC members, but also said that at December's meeting it would be necessary to look closely at where the final responsibility lies for certain subjects.

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