Party Front: ‘We’re here for the active student’
The University Council elections are coming up again. Between April 28 and 30, Tilburg University students can vote for the candidates of Front and SAM. But what do the student parties actually stand for and what do they want to achieve? Front pays extra attention to second-year students of next year, so the current first-year students. “Some of them have never even been on campus,” says Front.
Paula Schrijver, a third-year Psychology student, is the current chair of Party Front, and is stepping down from the University Council after this academic year. Charlotte Grimberg, fourth-year Public Administration student, enters the election as the leading candidate. Univers looks back with them on a participation year colored by COVID-19, and looks ahead to the next. “Today’s first-year students should get the most attention.”
Paula, how did you experience exercising participation during an international health crisis?
Paula: “We couldn’t ignore the coronavirus situation of course. The crisis and its measures have set the political agenda for Front in the past year, not in the sense that we submitted initiatives about it, more in an informal way. For example, we made sure that the second floor of the University Library[MB1] reopened, making more study places available for students.”
“Personally, I think it’s very unfortunate that all the University Council meetings were online, normally we sit with the Executive Board and all the parties in the big board room. Fortunately, everything went on as usual, so I had a full board year. But I missed the social aspect very much, even though, at the beginning of the academic year, we were able to meet livewith other boards for a while due to the easing of the measures.”
What has Front accomplished in the past year?
Paula: “In the past year, we submitted a number of initiatives to the University Council associations to which the Executive Board responded positively. We are most proud of our proposals for a career minorand a sustainability fund.
“For the sustainability fund, ten thousand euros have been set aside per year for the next two years. All student, study, and sports associations can receive a subsidy from the university if they meet a sustainability checklist.”
“The plan concerning the career minor entails that we want to introduce a university-wide minor. We think students can be better prepared for the job market if they have an internship, and we want that to be an option for every student.
“Currently, an internship is not yet rewarded with credits in all study programs, and we want to change that. Our proposal to introduce a career minor will be examined by an Executive Board committee in the near future.”
What will Front commit to next year?
Charlotte: “I think next academic year will be the year when the coronavirus crisis is gone again, and we will start working on access to campus, vaccine passports or not.
“I think it will be interesting, to be involved in that, from within the University Council and to see how we can take the best practicesfrom the coronavirus crisis. We’ve learned a lot about digital education recently, and Party Front would like to build on that.”
“Digital education is one of Front’s pillars. We think it is important that active students have flexible access to lectures, in the evenings for example. We also want to create more study workplaces for students.
“And we want to pay a lot of attention to the new second-year students, the first-year students right now who sometimes have never even been on campus. For them, we want to make sure we have good signposting on campus.”
Why is participation important?
Paula: “I have noticed in the past year that people really listen to what we, student parties, contribute to meetings. For example, we pointed out that there were not enough (group) workstations available for students during the coronavirus measures.
“We saw opportunities in Reitse Poort and Reitse Toren. We indicated this and the university then opened these buildings to students.”
Charlotte: “The representation of students in the University Council is indeed an important part of participation. At the same time, it is a great opportunity for individual students to gain experience and learn a lot. I happened to already know Paula from association activities and have seen her grow tremendously, personally and professionally.”
Paula: “That is true, yes. As chair, you engage in discussions with other boards, other parties, and with the Executive Board. I also had to give a speech at my first University Council meeting. At the beginning of the year, I found such occasions very tense, but now I find it a lot more relaxed.”
And finally, why do all students have to vote for Party Front in the last week of April?
Charlotte: “Party Front is there for active students, and there are a lot of them in Tilburg. This can be a student who is a board or committee member of a student, sports, or study association, but it can also be students who work a lot in addition to their studies. We will promote, within the University Council, all opportunities for students to develop their extracurricular activities.”
Also read: Party SAM: ‘Everyone has a voice with us’
Translated by Language Center, Riet Bettonviel