A column by Roeland van Beek, class of ‘ 11
When I was still a member, I used to casually browse through the UCSA statutes and policy manual every now and then. Occasionally because I thought people had done things they shouldn’t have done, usually because I simply enjoyed reading them. Over thirty pages of rights and duties that probably wouldn’t ever apply to me – a maze of rules and surprises.
The statutes mostly reflect Dutch association law: there should be a General Assembly twice a year, the board is responsible for committees, any member or committee has the right to file a complaint which shall be followed by appropriate action, and so on.
The policy manual is less formal and more interesting: it contains the function descriptions for the board, for example. It’s also filled with many little articles that seem almost redundant, like “English will be the official language of the UCSA” (2.1) , “Abstracts of minutes of UCSA Board meetings shall be available upon the request of any member” (8.7), and “Publications may not contain any kind of personal attack, with the exception of […] opinionated articles of the Boomerang” (47.1a).
Some of the articles evoke lots of questions about their history. Which board was confident enough to discuss with the GA the procedures for the dismissal of board members? But no one seems to have had the courage to document on what grounds this could be done.
Maybe most amazing of all is that the UCSA has an independent body to guarantee adherence to all these rules. There’s a real separation of powers in our mini-society, with the GA the legislature, the board the executive and the independent body the judiciary. However, the cool thing about our mini-society is that the people we elect aren’t supposed to rule us; every member can propose a motion. In fact, if the board fails to convene a GA after a proper request has been made, the members may even do so themselves (statutes 7.2).
Rules like these are not to be abused. They are to be looked upon in awe, and the UCSA board should set an example in this. In my years on campus I’ve seen some very defensive boards. A board shouldn’t have to be defensive: they should lead the association in a way that allows them to be proud. The only valid defense a board can ever have is that the GA agrees with them – if not, they should change their policy.
I think this is a quality often overlooked at board elections: the ability to lead the association and follow it at the same time. Not a passive kind of following, but actively pursuing the social interests of all UCSA members; spending at least their 28 hours of course load reduction on being present at every committee event, on having an open office, on realizing new initiatives and on continuing the work of the previous boards to make the association work even better.
With the elections fast approaching, I hope six candidates stand up again who are dying to represent. Candidates who know what they are about to begin, who have been at every GA since they became a UCSA member, and who want nothing more than the best for everyone. By the time this column is published, I hope the bulletin board in Dining Hall is filled with election statements from people who want to be responsible for great things. And most of all, I hope the UCSA members don’t elect the candidates with the most fantastic plans, but the ones who will bring the most members’ ambitions to life.