If you miss too many tutorial group meetings, you get an extra assignment or cannot take the exam. And if you miss too many council meetings, you no longer receive compensation. A survey held by University Council student members showed that 65 per cent of the University and Faculty Council members cannot miss tutorials without consequences, 42 per cent having already had to carry out an extra assignment. In a letter to the Executive Board, they presented these figures and three steps that would solve their problems: adapted study timetables, no compulsory attendance for students who miss education activities because of official university business, and moreover, this must be included in the examination regulations.
The Executive Board doesn’t see much in the latter, said Nicolette Engelen, policy official for education and research, last month during a University Council committee meeting. “It would be difficult to determine which students are exempt and which are not.” The Board does feel that adapting the timetables seems like a good option. “But,” Engelen emphasised. “This is not a right but a service.” So, there is no guarantee. “In addition, it is of course true that University Council members only need to be present 75 per cent of the time.”
This went down the wrong way with the University Council. “That 75 per cent rule is exactly the problem, so not part of the solution,” replied University Council chairperson Amanda Kluveld. Student council member Phineas Shapiro: “Our proposal is a step-by-step plan. It was not the idea to treat our suggestions separately. We want a structural change, not just for us but for the council members who take over after us.”
A temporary solution was put forward during the plenary University Council meeting before the carnival holiday. By way of trial, the schedulers are going to try until the summer to prevent conflicting schedules. In addition, rector Rianne Letschert will write a letter to the programme directors with the urgent request to be more clement towards students with council or board duties. If, by summertime, this appears not to be a good solution, we will continue our search for a solution, said the Board.
A very important thing about the letter, the student fraction feels, is that it is clear that they are not just lazy students who don’t want to attend tutorials. Student council member Yasmin Hashish: “It is not a problem to have to give an extra presentation to show that you have understood what was discussed in the tutorial that you missed, but to have to write a paper of two thousand words feels more like unjust punishment.”