Introducing the new student members of the University Council

Students University Council after their first meeting on September 23. Photo DUB

They are the student’s voice at the university board’s table. They monitor policy, advise on plans and set the agenda for what they think is important. Every academic year, twelve students put their studies on the back burner to enter the University Council. In this representative body, they talk to the Executive Board about the plans for the university, together with twelve employees.

But who are those twelve students? What do they want to achieve in the coming year? What was their most embarrassing moment at the university? And what should UU cherish especially? DUB questions them thoroughly: twelve people, twelve wishes?

Photo Wieke Eefting

Douglas Dorothal (21, Lijst Vuur) grew up in Aruba and moved to the Dom City three years ago for his studies in Veterinary Medicine and Biology. His first impression of Utrecht? “Cute and beautiful. I particularly like the Oudegracht.” Yet the canals of Utrecht are not his favourite hidden gem in the Dom City, his own bed and the “maccie” on Lange Viestraat win that prize. You can always wake him up at night for a snack at McDonalds. Or for a stroll along the shops.

As a council member, Douglas wants to commit himself to diversity and inclusiveness at Utrecht University in the coming year. He expects that "as the only international council member", he will bring a new perspective. One of the things he hopes to change is the absence of the university on the Utrecht Canal Pride (in Dutch). "I'm still grumpy that UU couldn't arrange for a boat last Pride."

The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to Douglas during his studies is that in the first year of his Veterinary Medicine studies a cow almost pooped in his face while he tried to milk the lady in question.

Dilemma: Uithof or city centre?

"City centre, because it is a hundred times more beautiful than De Uithof."

Photo Wieke Eefting

If you ask Maartje Lith (21, PvdUS) which moment in her university career she is ashamed of, she says: "that after three years I still did not know the route to De Uithof". She knows the way by now, but she thinks the trip is one of the most annoying things you can imagine. The student from West-Brabant is already itching at the thought of the bicycle traffic jam on the way. It is therefore not surprising that she resolutely opts for the city centre if you ask her if she would rather be there or at De Uithof.

The Law and International Relations student has no experience in student representation, but in the coming year she wants to achieve that Utrecht University comes up with a position on how it intends to internationalise in concrete terms. In her view, this is missing in the current strategic plan (in Dutch). "Internationalisation is mentioned, but little is said about what UU wants to do."

For example, the Veritas member would like to see a policy on the integration of international students. If internationals do not find their place in Utrecht and do not get in touch with Dutch students, then, in Maartje's view, you will never realise the international classroom that she thinks is beneficial for student development. That does not automatically mean that she wants UU to be Anglicised. “The usefulness of the English language within a course must be critically examined at all times. I notice a lot of dissatisfaction among students about Anglicisation. Especially when the teacher does not speak the language sufficiently to guarantee the quality of education. "

Dilemma: polder model or activism?

“Polder model! I am most satisfied if, after a meeting, everyone has the feeling that he or she has been able to have their say and that his or her opinion is being taken into consideration.”

Photo Wieke Eefting

Eva Klaver (20, De Vrije Student) comes from the village of Groet in Noord-Holland and did a board year at the youth organization of the VVD JOVD Utrecht and surroundings last academic year. The student Chemistry is also a member of study association U.S.S. Proton, social club C.S. Veritas and has also become a member of STUdance this year. That is quite an undertaking next to the University Council, where she wants to set up a "super good strategic plan". In this strategic plan, UU writes the direction it wants to go in the coming years. The University Council is allowed to participate in this.

This year she is taking the minor Entrepreneurship and she has started her first course, but it did not start off particularly smoothly. "I joined the first lecture last week, but I did not understand what it was about at all. The teacher built on previous preparations I knew nothing about and I looked around at other students in panic, but they were already busy making assignments. Only after half an hour I found out that I was in a diehard economics class for higher-year students."

Eva's greatest dream is to attend a festival lasting several weeks with an infinite budget. It is therefore not surprising that Eva would gladly be woken up for a great festival with nice people, "because, for me, that is really maximum enjoyment." In addition, her actual ‘dream’ is to work herself up in a company, make a lot of money and stay happy. "Such a cliché."

Dilemma: Uithof or city centre?

"City Centre, if only because you can get food there for a normal price instead of paying the extremely high prices at the Spar."

Photo Ruben Steendam

The greatest dream of Nienke Prins (21, Lijst Vuur) is to live in Italy in a little old castle. Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that you can wake the student up at night for a bottle of rosé. Until she can make her dream come true, the Amersfoort-born focuses on the University Council, plays the violin in the Utrecht Student Concert and is a member of the Christian student association VGSU.

A busy bee, indeed. Nonetheless, reducing the pressure on students is one of the themes that Nienke wants to promote as a representative this year. “There is a culture at Utrecht University where students are encouraged to achieve the highest possible grades and also undertake a huge number of extracurricular activities. The university is a fan of these excellent students, but seems to forget how much stress this performance pressure causes. An increased share of students suffers from burnout complaints. Help often comes too late or not at all. That is why I want UU to lower the pressure on students' performances and for the university to tackle the culture in which excellence is encouraged.”

If she could, the Philosophy and Law student would probably also do something about the price and quality of coffee at Utrecht University. “The coffee has not improved in the last few years, but it has become twice as expensive. Isn't that strange? "

Dilemma: polder model or activism?

"Activism. Sometimes you have to kick against the existing order to change it. "

Photo Wieke Eefting

Anneke Marien (19, Lijst Vuur) is new within the university democracy, but not within the student participation itself. She has been committed to good education since she was twelve. First, within the representative body of her secondary school in Utrecht and later as a member of the Landelijk Aktie Komitee Scholieren (Laks), or National Action Committee for Secondary School Students.

As a University Council member, she wants to make Utrecht University the forerunner in sustainability. One of her priorities is that within UU all work-related journeys within Europe are made by train instead of by plane. The climate march is therefore, if you ask Anneke, a good excuse to use if you want to skip an exam. She has not yet used it herself, because her tactic is to just take an exam, "even if I haven’t studied".

In addition, the Liberal Arts and Sciences student gets itchy from lecture rooms where you have to sit on the floor because there is not enough room for everyone who is taking the course. In the past year, she has attended a lecture where there were insufficient seats three or four times. "Fortunately, I am always on time so I have never had to sit on the floor."

Dilemma: Uithof or city centre?

"Definitely the city centre! It is super atmospheric and I always meet people I know. In addition, UU buildings are also really much prettier than in De Uithof."

Photo Wieke Eefting

Job van den Broek (22, De Vrije Student) gets itchy from "exaggerated political correctness". He finds it "very tiring". He would rather call it how he sees it. Before joining the University Council, he was active at the youth organization of the CDA and he is also co-founder of student rowing club MSRA Odin in Middelburg.

One of the master's student of political history’s most embarrassing moments at UU he experienced when during the handing out of flower seeds on behalf of de Vrije Student he asked a girl if she wanted some seed. "The girl in question looked at me as if I had just given her a #metoo experience."

In the University Council, Job wants to prevent UU from patronising the students. “We are darn old enough to be able to decide for ourselves whether or not we attend a lecture. If you cannot assess that, you will learn that along the way."

Once every two weeks, when Job is not busy with the University Council, he gives guided tours in his hidden Utrecht pearl: The Willibrordus Church. “A beautiful building. It is in a fairly inconspicuous place, but it is certainly worth the effort to walk in some time.”

Dilemma: polder model or activism?

“Polder model. In consultation you can go much further, moreover a compromise is precisely the beauty of democracy: everyone wins and loses something”.

Photo Wieke Eefting

If one thing should not disappear at Utrecht University, according Sarah van Driel (22, PvdUS), then it is Broodje Ben in De Uithof (in Dutch). The Biology student thinks the food truck is a "very good addition" to the Science Park, because there you can quickly get a tasty and healthy lunch. "If I don't bring lunch myself, which only happens once every three months, then Broodje Ben is my first choice." She does not really have a favourite sandwich, but numbers 17 (brie, walnut, stewed pear) and 27 (mozzarella, tomato, pesto) are often her "go-to".

Climate is an important theme for biology student Sarah, both privately and within her coming council year. “In daily life, I am very concerned with climate change and all its consequences.” As a University Council member, she wants to be involved in the plans to ensure that the university is CO2 neutral by 2030 in the coming year. She believes that UU must take major steps, but that all the little attempts are already helping. For example, by offering only vegetarian food in the cafeteria, making buildings more sustainable or simply creating awareness among staff and students.

One of her goals for the future would be to be a climate expert at the table at De Wereld Draait Door or Jinek.

Dilemma: Uithof or city centre?

"De Uithof when it comes to studying and the city centre for everything else."

Photo Bart van Weerdenburg

The biggest wish of Jesse Wijlhuizen (22, Lijst Vuur) is that the university can be a place where the human is prioritised: "so that staff and students are not burdened with psychological issues." One of his goals as a council member is to improve the well-being and "making others realise that the university is a wonderful and rich place to develop as a student and as a person."

The Sociology and Philosophy student grew up in Nuenen in the house where Vincent van Gogh grew up and painted his famous work "The Potato Eaters". During his secondary school years, he was active in student participation and he later became chairman of his study association Usocia in Utrecht.

His greatest dream has nothing to do with counselling, because, in fact, Jesse would like to earn a living as a musician. That is why you may always wake him up for music, but also for those tasty sugar mice that you can buy around Sinterklaas time.

Dilemma: Only UU members in the library or library is opened 24 hours a day?

“I like to work through the night and start early in the morning, so I'd opt for the latter. Sometimes I am already in the council chamber while the hallway is still empty. "

Photo Wieke Eefting

Friso Bouman (23, PvdUS) definitely never wants to hear again that participation is not sexy, because he loves to be dragged out of bed for a juicy note or an exciting meeting. As a council member, the Law student wants to commit himself to the development of students. "I want to make an effort for those who want to get more out of their studentship than just taking classes and exams, for example in the form of sports activities or a board year at a study or student association."

According to Friso, something that should absolutely not disappear within UU is help for people with mental issues. "A little bit of awareness is finally coming, but we still have a long way to go."

Friso once had to miss out on an exam because he had eaten pizza from Mr. Jacks at the Voorstraat and afterwards got very severe stomach cramps.

Dilemma: Uithof or city centre?

“City centre, that's where all the fun things are. De Uithof is the place where dreams go to die. "

Photo Wieke Eefting

Vincent de Haes (22, Lijst Vuur) lived in Rochester, New York until he was twelve. He then moved to Nijmegen to later end up in Utrecht for his study in Global Sustainability Science. He has obtained that bachelor's degree. In addition to his University Council work, he is not slacking off. He is involved with Aerodelft; a student team working on an aircraft that flies on liquid hydrogen.

Vincent was previously on the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Geosciences and as a University Council member hopes to get everyone to feel at home at UU. “Dutch students, internationals, sustainability freaks and supporters of Thierry Baudet. We must do it together. "

He has always felt at home at the university. Apart from the first day, there was not a moment that he was embarrassed within the university walls. Even when he is taking a nap on the couches of the "educ" (educatorium, red.). Vincent calls this his “guilty pleasure afternoon nap” and hopes that those benches will never disappear.

Dilemma: polder model or activism?

“Polder model, because a solution that has come about from the opinions of all parties will last the longest. After all, everyone feels represented. 

Photo Wieke Eefting

Lars Bakker (21, PvdUS) has never been politically active before, but as a council member wants to make sure that students can develop in whatever area they think they are good at. “Whether this is academic, musical or at sporty level: there must be room for it at UU. That is why I am responsible for distributing subsidies among all student sports associations in the coming year."

The Hengelo-born studies Law at Utrecht Law College and often lets his lectures go hand in hand with spilling coffee all over his clothing.

If, after all those embarrassing lectures, he wants to dodge an exam, he would use the excuse that he has somehow lost his lenses and has no glasses or spare lenses. “It is really true: I have particularly bad eyes with prescriptions of -8.5 and -9. So without glasses or lenses I really couldn't function. "

Dilemma: Uithof or city centre?

"City centre. Although I have been coming to De Uithof more and more since this year and have come to appreciate the place more, I still think the city centre has a little more atmosphere.”

Photo Wieke Eefting

As a council member, Ashley van Driel (21, UUinActie) will take a critical look at university’s expenses this year. "I particularly look at the political-strategic choices behind the divisions: why do we want to spend so much money on certain things?"

She studies Dutch Language and Culture herself, and really does not want to see this study disappear within UU, as it did at the VU in Amsterdam (in Dutch). “Nobody - apart from the two hundred Dutch students in all of the Netherlands - likes the subject in high school. There are many complaints about the Dutch exam. For the preservation of the language, the research into Dutch culture, and even for training skilled high school teachers, it is important that something changes.”

If you would want to wake up Ashley for something, then it is good food. "I am a huge sweet tooth." If you do not want to wake her up, but would rather get to know her during the day, then you are welcome in room 4.14 in the Administration Building for coffee and sweets.

Dilemma: polder model or activism?

"Activism! But only with a purpose, not the kind of activism to be activist. To be honest, it took me a while before my fear of activism was taken away. I was scared of frightening screaming people with balaclavas and fireworks. But that is not activism at all. Activism is expressing your opinion, because it is necessary. To say: ‘enough is enough’. Because nobody wants to listen to the "polder version". It is important that we can also express activism within the university!”