Inactive student council members are a growing problem, and the new Central Student Council (CSR) wants to try and put an end to it. Members who are absent too often may lose their voting rights or financial compensation.
It’s been a trend for a number of years, says departing chairman Pjotr van der Jagt. ‘There is declining activity among members of the Central Student Council.’ Technically there are fourteen elected student representatives’, he said in March. ‘But sometimes just four of us make decisions.’
He asked his successor, Nina Hol, to find out if it would be possible to hold back part of an inactive member’s financial compensation (a student in the council receives between 2,200 and 4,240 euros a year whereas a delegate from a Faculty Student Council who is also a CSR member can receive up to 7,470 euros. The five board members of the CSR receive up to 8,340 euros). The compensation is meant to compensate for study delay and members receive part of it when they are elected, but there is also a ‘commission surcharge’ of 170 euros a month for ‘active membership’ of a committee. Van der Jagt: ‘I would like for there to be a definition of “active member”.’
The proposal to withhold compensation was accepted by the CSR, says chair Nina Hol. ‘We decided that members will only receive payment if they attend over 60 per cent of meetings per semester.’ It is not yet certain whether this will actually be implemented, however. ‘It’s the university that pays, so it has to agree.’
Another suggestion, which states that members who have missed three meetings will lose voting rights at the next meeting, is more controversial. Hol: ‘You then have to attend a meeting where you cannot vote before you are able to vote again. If you have not been present for a while, you have less knowledge of what’s at stake.’ The proposal eventually won a majority, but the Legal Affairs department of the UvA is not yet able to comment to what extent a withdrawal of voting rights would be binding.
‘It should be clear that this is not a dictatorship,’says Hol. ‘If something is going on and you miss a meeting, we’re not immediately going to take away your right to vote.’