By Hans van Deursen
Where was my class of 2015, now second years, during the UCSA and ASC elections last year? Only three second years put themselves forward for ASC, and no one for the UCSA. This seems to go hand in hand with a decline of interest in the bar. According to former BarCo treasurer Steven Minke, the bar “earned approximately €50.000 less” compared to the year before. It is not unthinkable that my own cohort, class of 2015, has something to do with this.
Second year Marcela Tripoli indicated that the academic pressure is very high, as there is “too much [academic] work for too little time.” What may have mattered is that UCU, having been first in several Dutch university rankings, seems to be perceived more and more as a guarantee for good education. This might explain why more academic oriented people seem to apply. Causing a shift in academic focus, these ambitious students focus on studying rather than participating in an active campus life.
The decreased level of activity of second years could also be linked with financial cutbacks from the Dutch government, enforcing the importance of academics for the Dutch students. “Dutch students seem to be more focused on academics,” Marcela said.
A theory often discussed over a beer says that campus involvement follows a cyclical pattern. In other words, the super-active class of 2014 crowded out the current second years. But there are currently 57 committee board positions filled by the class of 2015, compared to 47 from the class of 2014. Maybe the step to ASC and the UCSA Board simply seemed to be too big. MarathonCo Chair Sophie Bots said that “the UCSA Board and ASC feel more like something for third years.”
Inge Schrijver, ASC Chair and a second year, confirmed this feeling. “But I really wanted to do something on campus, and ASC seemed like the right place for me,” she said. It is perhaps this strong urge to contribute to campus life that lacks among second years, including myself.
Whatever the causes may be, I hope current first years as well as returning students remember that, as Steven put it, “the combination of social campus involvement and high academic standards is what makes UCU unique”.