A column on ASC and the UCSA Board
By Annerijn Vink
What happens after UCSA and ASC elections? Are the candidates’ ambitious aims converted into concrete results? In this column we will closely look at the actions of our representatives.
“ASC? Didn’t they have something to do with the Booksales?” This was a common answer when I asked first years about ASC. The visibility of ASC was an important theme during the election campaign. Several candidates felt that the Academic Student Council’s work should be communicated more clearly to students. In his election statement, Simon van Oort, now AAO Humanities, stressed the importance of making ASC more “directly visible on campus”, communicating to students “more often or more in depth during Introweek”.
Has ASC been working to reduce this gap in communication? According to Linda Barry, AAO Social Sciences, ASC was very active during Introweek. “We helped out a lot. Also, we organized the pubquiz and the Dean’s speech and we made sure that tutors handed out ASC flyers to all the first years. We worked together with the tutors because we thought it was crucial to show our affiliation with academics from the start.”
In her election speech, Barry evoked the vital need for an independent website “with information about the workings of ASC, which
makes sure that ASC will be more transparent and accountable”. Currently, ucstudents.nl only displays the ASC logo, painfully contrasting with the fancy new UCSA website. Currently ASC’s website is not in use and they only have a page on the Intranet. ASC is considering setting up its own section on the UCSA website. “There will probably be a link to the Intranet page. We don’t want to give the impression that we are part of the UCSA. The difference should be clear”. But this makes little sense. If ASC wants to clarify they are not a part of UCSA, then why do they want to be a part of the UCSA website?
ASC stresses that it is not easy to ‘be visible’ on campus. “We have to work with College Hall a lot. Due to the nature of those meetings, we have to keep most things confidential for a long time. It is generally very hard to show what we are doing,” Barry says. She confirms that office hours are well-attended. Most students, however, seem to be peacefully unaware of the amount of readings and the length of the meetings that ASC deals with weekly.
Is improving the visibility of ASC a bold idea? At the very least, it is an ambitious idea. ASC seems to be busy on two fronts: the urge to ‘be seen out there’ and the imperative to draw a clear distinction between the UCSA and themselves. An ASC section on the UCSA website seems to be an easy way to reach more people, but it might give the impression that ASC is merely a committee of the UCSA. More importantly, the diplomatic nature of the Council’s work makes it very difficult to update the student body daily.
ASC needs to find ways to raise awareness and increase communication. Why not design an interactive website where people can find documents, ask questions, and send in complaints? Why not organize more service center sessions when students really need them, during the first weeks of classes? Why not print a few posters with information and put them up everywhere? If ASC is seriously dedicated to improve visibility, they should already start working on this ambition.