Student parties want clarity about post-covid education

| Pim Eerden

UT students and employees may cast their votes this week for the university council elections. Students can choose from two parties: ‘The Ambitious Student’ (DAS) and UReka. What do these parties want and how do they differ from each other? ‘We agree on many points, but the focus is different.’

What does your party stand for?

Robin van Zutphen (DAS): ‘The name of our party, ‘the ambitious student’, says it all. The UT must realise that student life is more than just studying and that it’s also about personal development. You don’t learn that from books. An environment in which the importance of activism alongside your studies is understood, while the quality of education remains high, is therefore of great importance. This quality of education is our other main pillar, because after all, everyone has come to the UT to study. These two things make us a party for everyone.’

Tim Achterkamp (UReka): ‘UReka stands for improving the quality of education and student wellbeing at the UT. We also promote sustainability, student activism and an international university. We stand for a broad representation of all kinds of students, so that everyone can be heard at the UT. That is also reflected in our electoral list.’

What has your party achieved in the recent past?

Van Zutphen (DAS): ‘Since its founding in 2015, DAS has fought hard for the abolition of the Twents Onderwijsmodel (TOM) and the implementation of TOM 2.0 and as such the abolition of the 0 or 15 EC regulation. We succeeded, keeping activism at UT possible.’

Achterkamp (UReka): ‘Besides the abolition of TOM, which we achieved together with the other student groups, UReka also brought forward its own initiatives. This year, we set up a pilot for the free distribution of menstrual products at the UT. In recent years, we have also worked on the implementation of a minor in employability for international students. This minor focuses on working in the Netherlands and the transition from study to work, a transition which often proves to be difficult for international students. The minor will start next academic year.’

How does your party differ from the others?

Van Zutphen (DAS): ‘We agree with UReka on many points, but we have a different focus. Where UReka focuses more on the educational community, DAS is more on the extracurricular side of things.’

Achterkamp (UReka): ‘Where DAS has a clear focus on the ambitious and active student, UReka is there for all students. We want to keep it broad and be there for everyone, also for the students within the ‘member associations’ of DAS.’

What do you want to achieve next year?

Van Zutphen (DAS): ‘Our intention is to minimise the impact of the covid crisis and learn lessons from the pandemic. Students must come to the campus again and physical education must be the norm, although we will certainly look at how online education can be used. It is also very important to us to guard the space for activism and the balance between studying and activism. We want to keep TOM 2.0 and are, for example, against evening classes. DAS is also against a central language policy, because we think that inclusion is more than just a language policy and should also be about integration between the different cultures at the UT.’

Achterkamp (UReka): ‘It is important to us that the UT comes up with a new vision of how education should be organised after the covid crisis. We want clarity. Online education must not serve as a replacement for physical education due to a lack of capacity. Student wellbeing is also very important to us. Being on campus is important for education, but also for social contact and student development. The waiting lists for student psychologists are currently too long, so something needs to be done about that. We also think that associations should be better supported in the future with grants for activism.’

How many seats are you going to get?

Van Zutphen (DAS): ‘We hope to grow and are therefore aiming for four seats. We have done a lot of campaigning at the UT and within our supporters and will continue to do so this week.’

Achterkamp (UReka): ‘We would like to win six seats again and we will work hard for that. We have campaigned online and will continue this week.’