By Roeland van Beek
Every Open Mic Night again, I realize how much I love campus. The smell, the talent and most of all, the people. Sitting in the bar, watching the audience, listening to the girl that dedicates a song to her brother – it’s not just them, it’s as if we’re all family. That’s great: it’s what makes campus special.
Nevertheless, being family doesn’t necessarily make things easier. Remember when you were a kid and you had that cool cousin who would always take your side against the grown-ups? Then he grew up and suddenly he seemed to conspire with the adults. And why do those older people have so much power?
It becomes even harder when the family is also a town, a school and an association. Arguments over class assignments and committee budgets easily turn into personal conflicts, which can make campus life a bit grim – although then there’s always the grandparents taking the kids for a drink.
Could campus really be a town though? Politically, things would be very peculiar. The citizens pay thousands of euros to a non-elected government. Additionally, there is an elected town council to represent the citizens in front of the government. However, the council gets a substantial part of their income from this same government. As such, they have no choice but to be diplomatic.
Usually, except maybe in a one-billion-people country, none of this really matters: there is always independent journalism to shed light on the obscure matters. In this town, however, the council owns the newspapers.
When the All Students Interest Council (ASIC) decided to abolish itself a few years ago, people feared campus would lack an independent student representation. I think that is a very valid concern. We are more than a town, and that’s why we need leaders who know that people are more than the conflicts they cause.
Campus politics will always be wobbly. But you know what’s cool about being a family? We can work it out, every time again.