Executive Board column: Participation keeps the Board on its toes
This week we can vote in the University elections. The University Council and faculty councils are incredibly important. During the fantastic seminar on 50 years of participation that the University Council recently held, our former Rector Carel Stolker aptly said: ‘Without participation, there would be no university.’ And I agree wholeheartedly!
The participation bodies are the eyes and ears of the University. They hold a critical mirror up to us as a board and can explain issues that students and staff are facing. This helps us understand these and do more about them.
I’m pleased it’s easier to meet up again.
Participation obviously consists of formal meetings, paperwork and decision-making. But it’s much more than that alone: informal open dialogue has a lot to add, which is why I’m pleased that it’s much easier for us all to meet up again. This helps us understand one another’s point of view and makes it easier to find a solution in the event of disagreements or major concerns. The University Council had the following to say about the Strategic Plan, for instance: ‘Great all that innovation, but there must be room for it.’ They really hammered this point home and that ultimately resulted in Ambition 1. This means we ensure that space is created for innovation: a good basis and harmonised processes across the faculties.
The interaction with one another is inspiring, also with other groups and on subjects that I myself am already working on, such as sustainability. A short while ago, students from the University Council asked me to open a conference on sustainability and to help think about the University’s vision on sustainability. I found it fascinating to discuss this with them. I appreciate how they are standing up for the general public and the community that thinks sustainability is really important. Their engagement has got me thinking about this even more.
Participation ensures that different communities within the University are involved.
This is why it is so important that people sign up for our participation bodies. It ensures that different communities within the University are involved. For example, PhDoc represents the interests of PhD candidates at meetings and another member regularly asks if we are aware of the consequences of a decision for the Hague campus. These are sometimes things that aren’t at the forefront of our minds, but these questions ensure we don’t conclude too quickly that something has to be done one way or the other.
This week, all students and staff can cast their vote for their representative on the University Council and faculty councils. Make use of this opportunity. I look forward to hearing the results on 17 May and to meeting the new members of the University Council and faculty councils – and to maintaining an open dialogue with them.