As you have probably noticed, either through your inbox/spambox, or by the oddly dressed individuals roaming the corridors, the study association board change season is upon us — new year, new you, new board.
For the uninitiated first-years (hi group three!), boards change every year because of boring law reasons — having student associations supposedly being a net societal good — which is where it all starts. Every association has its own weird tradition — apparently called mores — for their candidates. There’s one which makes their candidates wear ties which they’re not allowed to wash (could it get more childish?), there’s another one which makes them weird purple costumes with wings (it could get more childish) and there are probably more — these are just the ones I see roaming the Horst.
After that whole ordeal, the candidates are appointed to their position, which can be just as cringe, but more because of self-aggrandizing reasons. The candidate’s whole saga then culminates in a ‘constitution drink’. I have even seen the newly minted appointees being literally dragged to the nearest drinking room.
Now imagine that you’re the kind of timid, introverted but dedicated student, to whom the idea of running their association appeals to. You don’t really drink, nor do you care for all the (at times obligatory) parties — and drinks. But you’ve had some swimming lessons — or at least more than the usual slate of self-admitted zero-experience candidates. And even if not, you’re not the person who’s going to try to hide from that work. You’d be a great candidate. Yet, you see that you’d have to go through this. Would you still, really?
In other words, I think the current dogma and culture is far from appealing or welcoming to the people who you might want to run your study associations — organisations supposed to be there for all. These timid people would run their organizations with modesty; providing a platform for all their members to flourish. In the event that one of these individuals does end up on a board now, it might not be such a nice experience for them personally. The undercurrent of student culture — mostly consisting of alcohol — and the peer pressure drags them along. After their year, they’re discharged, disillusioned. But usually, we often only get fish from the old boys club, which consequently only facilitates that old boys club, whom only vaguely realise that they are an old boys club — or a glorified event organiser, travel agency, or alcohol vendor. A self-reinforcing cycle.
But we deserve more of these timid and dedicated people in our boards. My late new year’s wish — or not even a new year’s wish, just a wish in general — is for that culture to change, and for more of those timid people in our boards — whom I think can turn that ‘societal good’ from an aspiration into reality.
Let’s hope the new slates can start making progress.