Tobias Klein (TiU International): ‘Still full of ideas’

Tobias Klein (TiU International): ‘Still full of ideas’

TiU International is the youngest employee party. Tobias Klein is the top candidate for the second election in a row. How did TiU International experience its first term, and what are the plans for the future?

Tobias KleinTiU International has had its first two years in the University Council. How was it?
“In the beginning, it was all new to us, but I think we can say that it went more smoothly than we thought it would. Also thanks to a lot of help from the University Council office, especially Thijs and Rien.”

“Even before joining the council, we had clear ideas about how a university should be run, which is why we could bring a lot to the table when it came to discussing specific topics. One key thing we learned is why and how discussions actually take place at the top level.”

What do you mean by that?
“When we talk to our colleagues over lunch, then it’s very clear that a lot of them don’t agree with certain decisions that are made. I also keep being surprised about the way certain discussions go. For instance, decisions regarding buildings are mainly based on the financial implications and some mysterious numbers about how much space everybody needs: what this means is that we reduce space to save money. But this only works if we give up buildings, such as the Dante building and moving TSH into the Koopmans building. In our view, what we should be doing instead is to ask ourselves how we can design buildings such that employees of Tilburg University are happier about their workspace.”

“One key thing we learned is why and how discussions actually take place at the top level.”

“Accessibility is important for the interaction between support staff, academics, and students. The board doesn’t have those interactions with students, which is probably why they put less weight on those implications. But they are becoming reality right now, in the new Simon building that is being renovated for TSB.”

So you’re not giving up on this issue?
“We understand that not all topics can be discussed over and over again, but I think it’s important for us to show that this is a big issue for us and we want to keep discussing it. Fortunately, a lot of small steps have to be made to get to the end. This means that we will still have a lot of opportunities for turning this around. We will do our best to keep the Dante building and to make sure TSH can stay in it, for instance.”

The ‘building issue’ was one of the points that you kept bringing up in the council, but you didn’t always get a lot of support. Was that frustrating?
“It felt a bit funny, to be honest. The other two parties said that they understand our points, but then they still voted differently. It seems that at least now, the Independents move more and more in our direction, so I hope that we can stop all this nonsense. In the past, there might have been a political consideration at play. I think some people would have liked to see us fail.”

“I think some people would have liked to see us fail”

And you were called a ‘one issue party’ or ‘party TiSEM’.
“Last elections we had only TiSEM candidates. That was mainly because we were formed in a short period of time. We always had a broader perspective, though. Now, at our second elections, we’ve managed to put together a very broad group of candidates and I am very happy we have a long list with 28 candidates, from all across campus, with a Ph.D. researcher high up on the list and also a number of support staff. Unlike the Independents, we also take part in the elections at the faculty level and for the service council, so you could say we’re the broadest party of all.”

What’s the biggest thing you accomplished?
“Inside the council, we’ve changed the way discussions are held in the council. For instance, we are not afraid of giving negative advice if a proposal is not acceptable. And we’ve added an international perspective. More broadly speaking, over the last two years, we managed to give our party a very broad and solid base to build on.”

So what are the plans for the upcoming two years?
“Our contributions will be based on our four core values: Knowledge knows no borders, excellence in research and teaching, top people at the top and thorough, inclusive, and transparent decision making. They are also reflected in our election program with twenty very concrete points in it. One of those points is that we promote the use of English as the working language.”

Should the University Council be in English?
“I think we should at least discuss this. I’ve noticed that when someone who doesn’t speak Dutch is around in other places on campus, people automatically switch to English, which is very much appreciated by those coming from abroad. It makes them feel welcome and is inclusive. We want to be pragmatic at the same time, and hope that also in the council we move more and more in this direction.”

You can read the election program here.


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