New student party runs for university council

For as long as most of us can remember, the people begging for your votes in the university elections have been wearing either green or blue. Student factions Front and SAM are getting competition now, from a new student party: Student Democrats.“If we look at the university now, we don’t see what we want to see at such an important education institute,” says Ayrton van Noort, one of the founders of Student Democrats. “We would like to be educated to become contributing citizens, with attention for who we are, and what role we play in the world around us. A university should not just produce people who are ready for a specific job.” Together with his cofounder Vino Avanesi, he explains about how they came to found a new party for the university council. They met during the protests for New University Tilburg (NUtilburg) and share the same idealism. “But,” says Vino “We are not the same as NUtilburg. Back then, most of the students involved were studying at Humanities, and were focused primarily on university politics on a national scale. Now, the group is more divers in study background and we focus on more diversified issues.”

To make changes at our university, Student Democrats has formulated two ‘pillars’. The first is democracy. “The university council is a very closed corporate body,” says Ayrton. “The most important decisions for students are made there, but not many people know what is going on there.” Vino adds: “Of course there is sharepoint, where all the documents for meetings are published. But without context, there are not many students who can understand their full implications.” The students hope that by making university politics more transparent and understandable, students will become more involved and the council will become more democratic, because more students show an interest in it. Student Democrats is supposed to be a community as well as a party in the university council. “SAM and Front are not democratic enough, we think,” says Vino. “If they publish a list of names of candidates that you can vote for, how can we tell who chose the people on that list? At Student Democrats, you can become a member and influence party decisions.”

Another important issue, says Vino, is the fact that the university council meetings are in Dutch. “Ten percent of the university population is international. The current representatives in the council don’t reach them and we want to involve them in what we do.” This fits Student Democrat’s second pillar: active citizenship. Vino: “Student Democrats wants to provide a platform for critical citizens who want to contribute to building an intellectual and entrepreneurial community on a local and global stage.”

“We want to stimulate all students to participate at our university, and to help change what they want to change,” says Ayrton. “University politics should be more than ticking a box on an iPad once a year. We want to be visible as student representatives throughout the year, so that people can easily approach us to tell us what they are concerned about.”

On the 4th of February, this Thursday, at 20.00 hrs, Student Democrats throws a launch party at Café Esplanade.

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