‘We closed our boardroom to set an example’

| Natasja Schaafsma

Many UT students do it, want to do it or have done it in the past. Of course, we're talking about a board year. But what if your board year coincides with a global pandemic? In this series, U-Today asks study associations how they deal with the ‘new normal’. This sixth - and final - episode: Proto, the study association of Creative Technology.

The 'boardroom' of one of the Proto board members.

Proto has a board consisting of four members, which means some board members took two board positions. Imke Verschuren is the chairwoman. Together with her board, she could see the world changing because of Covid-19 during their (candidate) board period. She tells us about the precautions Proto took.

You are a small board, does that mean there is plenty of space for you to work in the boardroom?

‘Well actually, we closed completely. This is not because the programme or faculty told us to, but because we wanted to set an example. How can we expect students to adhere to the regulations and not meet up in groups when they can see us as a board sitting together all the time? It felt wrong to us, so after the last press conference we decided to move everything online. We’re all working from home now.’

Working from home when it’s not needed, isn’t that bad for your mental health?

‘We are having our ups and downs, as is anyone I’m sure. Right when the new regulations were published we had planned a lot of physical activities for the first-year students. So when that was cancelled we were feeling a bit bummed. And as we have only found ten new committee members this year, where we needed loads more, it is hard to get the committees started again. But we are getting used to everything now and we have all found a work rhythm so the general mood is getting better again! We are also playing online games together as a board, next to the serious stuff of course. We need to keep things fun.’

What are the downsides of not having the association open? 

‘Well, we had not planned any online activities yet. All of the activities we had on the agenda were in real-life as we felt everyone needed social contact. So now we are thinking of how we can (re-)organise fun stuff online. We are getting ideas from the other boards as well, but what works for one association does not necessarily work for the other. It’s a lot of guessing and trying. The worst thing resulting from the closed boardroom has to be the miscommunication between us and Alembic. We sent them a brasbrief (a Dutch student tradition where you give an often fun assignment to someone who lost something, ed.) and were waiting for their response. We thought they were cowards for not responding to it and we were a bit sad about it to be fair. It turned out that they had actually come by the boardroom and tried to find us in the building to respond to the letter. But of course, we were working from home.’