UC | What did you vote for?


A little over a month ago the TU/e elections for the University Council and the Department Councils took place. A two-week frenzy where the entire university was covered in posters, and where there were stands at every building staffed by enthusiastic students asking you: “Have you already voted?” Meanwhile the normal buzz of student life at the campus continued.

In December you couldn’t walk more than one hallway without being asked about what you would want to improve about our university and what your opinion is on topics you might not even have thought about before. I know because I was there, campaigning for my faction. And I noticed that most students hadn’t even heard of the elections or cared about who were running for what positions. Of all the students at our university, 26 percent voted in these elections. For reference, in the Dutch Parliamentary elections the turnout is 76 percent, and for the university of Delft it is 27 percent.

In comparison with the national elections, we are already trailing far behind, but we also see other technical universities struggling with voter turnout. 26 percent is a low percentage, so what is the reason for a student not to vote? Well, why vote for something that is only visible for those two weeks of the year? Students may find it frustrating that they see and hear little about what has been done by the University Council.

One thing is certain: this is not the result of a lack of motivation or opinions. Our university is filled with students who have all kinds of passions, opinions, and motivations! You can hear and see it every day on the campus. The challenge we face, is how to connect the students at our university to the codetermination bodies that represent them. Not everyone is made for politics, but everybody should be involved in it!

What does politics have to do with our university? Well, our university also has a democratic ‘government’ with leaders, policy makers and elected officials. Our university has an Executive Board (EB) which is comparable to the Council of Ministers. They have ‘ministries’ which write the ‘laws’ for the university. The EB needs to accept or reject the policies with the help of the University Council (UC). The UC is the ‘parliament’ of the university. They read the new policies, have the right to information, and give advice or consent to the EB. The UC consists of nine student members and nine employee members. And that is where your vote comes in.

Voting gives autonomy to the individual; it is one of the tools we possess to influence our government and therefore a responsibility. Why a responsibility? When a group of bystanders watches a person drown, who is responsible for the drowned person? The people who can swim? The person closest to the drowning person? All of them. Every single person in the crowd could speak up. If you see something going wrong, you need to speak up.

But looking at individuals is not sufficient to provide the solution. When looking at the functioning of a component in a device, you do not ignore the device! What can we do as elected representatives in codetermination bodies to make sure that students want to vote? That they want to give their opinion about what needs to be done, or give feedback on what has been done? What needs to change about the communication between the students and the UC?

We are already working hard within the UC to tackle this issue. If you have any ideas, contact us! Get involved and be a part of the change you want to see. I hope you will see more of the work we do and come next election cycle, I hope not having to start my pitch with explaining what the University Council is and does anymore.

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