Praise for the current generation of students

| Alma Schaafstal

Programme director Alma Schaafstal sent in this op-ed, after seeing the campaign of study association Sirius. ‘I see students caring for students, organizing it themselves brilliantly with a lot of support from others.’

Photo by: Laura Schep
Group picture after the shaving ceremony.

This week, I witnessed part of the shaving ceremony on the O&O square, as part of the ‘look out for yourself’ campaign of study association Sirius. Their goal is to raise money for MIND, in honour of their deceased board member Jesper Benus. This campaign is currently supported by many other study associations, with our own Proto amongst them.

To be honest, I found the event very touching, and felt tears in my eyes. It felt very precious and almost intimate to see those external officers from a number of study associations being shaved in public, with our own Laura Schep being one of the people carefully shaving one of them. I still have that image in my mind of one of the guys touching his head, asking ‘Does this feel weird?’ Or realizing what he had just done and how much money they were raising for the good cause and in honour of his friend? I don’t know. Of course, this is just my interpretation.

There is a lot of talk about the wellbeing of students and numerous initiatives have been formulated. Many support structures have been organized by the university itself. Canvas pages giving an overview of where to go to in case you need help (in which I am not a real believer). There are also special sessions to help our Executive Board to come up with good initiatives, such as Perspectives in which I participated.

My conclusion about that Perspectives session is that we should offer much more easy-to-access support to each other. Looking each other in the eyes and caring for each other as a first step. Support for grass-roots initiatives, and a little less top-down. The campaign from Sirius that’s currently going on does exactly that: students caring for students, organizing it themselves brilliantly with a lot of support from others.

I have seen the same happening in our programme recently: students truly supporting each other, and also speaking up as a group, very mature, very constructive, very much involved and doing things for the greater good. Whether it is giving a workshop and sharing the results, stopping by and giving very insightful comments on how to improve our programme, or simply by building wonderful installations on relevant topics. It gives me all the confidence in the world that in fact we currently have a very involved generation of students onboard, with many of them going the extra mile to create a better world together.

So from my side: lots of praise for you!

And… Good luck with finalizing the academic year.

Alma Schaafstal, Programme Director CreaTe/I-Tech