Concerns about declining activism, Student Union works on plan

| Rense Kuipers

There are concerns about the state of student activism at the UT. These concerns are shared by both the University Council and Rector Tom Veldkamp. The Student Union is currently working on an 'implementation plan' to boost activism.

Archive U-Today, at the presentation of the 'More than a Degree Awards' of the Student Union last October.

Last Wednesday, a Student Union vision document on 'extracurricular personal development' was on the agenda of the University Council. Oliver Davies of student party UReka hoped for a discussion with the Executive Board about the state of activism. That wasn't in the cards. ‘But I do understand that there is an implementation plan in the works to improve activism,’ Davies said.

'Acute problem'

Because that is desperately needed and there is urgency involved in that plan, Davies continued. 'It's an acute problem, both for larger and smaller activism. We have to face the fact that activism is declining and that boards are struggling to find new board members.'

Rector Tom Veldkamp shared this concern in a short response. 'The number of students who are willing to commit themselves in this way is decreasing. But I fear that the problem is not easy to solve. We did have discussions about lowering the pressure on education, but that would mean that the way we organise our education would have to be reconsidered.'

Exploratory phase

In the meantime, the Student Union is working on an implementation plan. SU chairman Xander Bon says that this is still in an exploratory phase. 'We are in the process of identifying the components and stakeholders involved and determining the timeline,' says Bon. 'Although we cannot yet present a full timeline, steps have already been taken and we want to take further actions quickly. The implementation plan is a high priority for us.'

The Student Union has previously noted that student activism is under pressure due to individualisation, stress and the corona crisis. 'Whether these consequences are temporary or permanent is not yet clear,' Bon said at the end of 2023.

Activism monitor

However, there is no numerical substantiation to confirm or refute the trend. The most recently published activism monitor dates from 2022, but it does not contain any crystal-clear conclusions. The Student Union expects to present an activism monitor for 2023 soon.

It is striking that in recent years that forming an organizing committee for think tank event Create Tomorrow has failed - twice. And the corona crisis turned out  to be the death knell for Stukafest Enschede, after years of arduous searches for new boards.

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