To be active or not to be active

| Mathijs de Ruiter , Tim Bussmann

In this series, our student writers ask other UT students about their opinion on a variety of controversial topics. Be it on a worldwide scale or a bit smaller, these students share their food for thought. This time: Activism at the campus.

A big part of student life at the University of Twente is activism. Many students are engaged with associations next to their regular study program, and some are not. What can be a reason for this? In order to delve deeper into this subject, we asked Industrial Design students Daan Theoden and Sjoerd Yska, Mechanical Engineering student Rik Leeftink and Psychology student Tim Mansveld about their view on activism. 

How important is activism for you?

Mansveld: ‘I’m active! I am part of the advisory council and I write pieces for the hand-out of Psychology study association Dimensie.’

Leeftink: ‘Yes, I am active in a wide range of extracurricular activities. For example, I took part in the 58th board of W.S.G. Isaac Newton, joined its most recent intercontinental study tour to South-America and followed the NESST entrepreneurial program.’

Theoden:  Beside my Industrial Design studies, I like to work on my own projects and projects with other students. I do freelance graphic design jobs on a regular basis as well as CAD modelling and 3D printing. Besides that, I am part of a student team named EVolution which focuses on the development of (bio) composites for different types of applications.’

Yska: ‘I am currently in two committees for the study association S.G. Daedalus, the vision committee (Viskom) and the evaluation committee (Evacom). I am also active at the photography association Foton, where I will be doing a board year next year. I have previously been active as a student for a day assistant and participator at start-up accelerator NESST.’

What is the importance of activism in general?

Mansveld: ‘Learning skills and obtaining competences, or developing skills in certain areas. Hereby I think of communicative or cooperation skills, or more creative skills..’

Theoden: ‘In my opinion, student activism is about developing a proactive mindset. By learning to look critically at things, situations and concepts we should become more aware of where we are moving as society and whether this place is desirable. We need this line of thought for a future in which we will be confronted with the consequences of the fourth industrial revolution, such as artificial intelligence, big data, automation and the internet of things. As the cliché says, today’s students are tomorrow’s future and therefore I think it is important that students develop a vision to find and solve problems as early as possible.’

What does activism bring to you?

Leeftink: ‘More insight into what I would actually like to do later on as my job. Within your courses you learn theory and you do not always know how you could apply it in practice. However, when I received a job at the company where I did my contract research for the study tour, I got a lot of insight into this and it made me really enthusiastic about the Masters that I am about to follow.’

Mansveld: ‘I learned from others to  deal with problems or to creatively handle  with a situation. In addition, it brought me some communication skills as well. How to convince others of your ideas, and how to make sure that everybody is getting the best out of their activism.' 

Theoden: ‘Since I started studying at the UT, I met a lot of people with different passions for certain aspects of design and engineering. As they were doing a lot of projects next to their studies, I quickly got inspired to adopt this entrepreneurial spirit. This has already led to great new opportunities, knowledge and experiences that made me more confident in my (future) work field.’

The internationalization at the UT is in full swing. Do you think this changes the way activism is done?

Yska: ‘There will be some changes like switching from the Dutch to the English language and there will be activism for and by international people. Besides that, I don’t think there will be other big changes in the way activism is done and most activities will stay mostly the same.’

Mansveld: ‘I totally think so, different cultures can bring different influences into activism. People with a different background can think about situations or deal with situations differently. Therefore, I think that the internationalization can enhance the process of learning from each other and stimulate to encounter different perspectives.’

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