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Foto: Stefan Johnson

New student council president: ’Rapid growth at UvA acute problem’

Dirk Wolthekker,
9 september 2022 - 10:56

The Central Student Council (CSR) has a new chairperson: the German student Tessa Trapp (20). She is a third year PPLE student and an experienced co-determinator. ‘The biggest problem at the moment is the rapid growth of the UvA. This problem needs to be addressed immediately.’

‘The main problem we as the CSR have to work on in the coming year is the rapid growth of the number of UvA students,’ said Tessa Trapp, the new president of the CSR as of September 1. For the first time, an international student is at the helm of the student body, not counting her predecessor Abigail Gilchrist, who briefly held an interim presidency last spring after the sudden departure of Manish Jhinkoe-Raj.

‘Menstrual products, for example, should be made available free of charge in all restrooms at the UvA, including the men’s’

‘Growth is out of control,’ says Trapp. ‘It is all the more important because it has consequences at all levels: there are not enough facilities, not enough study places, insufficient student housing, and it's at the expense of study quality. It can't go on like this. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against internationalization. After all, I myself come from abroad, but things just can't go on like this. The UvA management cannot solve this easily, so it is all the more important that we continue to raise this problem throughout the coming year.’


The new CSR chair comes from the German city of Heidelberg but spent much of her childhood in the Austrian city of Innsbruck, surrounded by the mountains of Tyrol. ‘Beautiful, but also a bit small all around. Amsterdam is a big international and diverse city. Very interesting. Besides, an interdisciplinary bachelor's program like Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics (PPLE) doesn't exist in Germany, so I came to Amsterdam two years ago. I really like it here. You can do everything by bike. Amsterdam is an international city and the UvA and PPLE has a diverse community. But finding accommodation was not easy. I first lived in Diemen via student housing, but after five months I found a house, where I now live with a friend.’


Last year Trapp already sat in the CSR on behalf of the student party Inter. She liked it so much that she decided to stand for election another year and stood as a candidate in last May’s council elections. She was elected as the only member of Inter and then put herself up for election as CSR chair. That also succeeded.

Foto: Stefan Johnson

Why did you have the ambition to become president?

‘It seemed especially good for the continuity of the council to do it for another year. The problems are so big that it's better if someone serves on the council for two years in a row. It is just a shame if the knowledge you gain in the council disappears after just one year. That is why I am happy that I can use my knowledge and experience within the co-determination again, this time as chairperson.’


Were you the only candidate for the presidency?

‘I had competition, but I can't say more about it because it was a confidential vote. In any case, I got the majority of votes, otherwise I would not have become president.’


Is the internationalization of the UvA reflected in the CSR?

‘Pretty much. The CSR has a total of 14 members, 9 of whom have a Dutch background and 5 of whom are from abroad. That is quite a good reflection. The UvA is indeed a bilingual university, but that is not always reflected in documents and reports. The language gap remains difficult for foreign students sometimes, so it is good that there are also many Dutch students on the council.’


Of the 14 CSR members, half are delegates from the faculty student councils, one from each faculty. The science faculty and dentistry faculty Acta did not delegate anyone. What do you think of this?

‘It is of course unfortunate that they did not delegate anyone, but we as the CSR will also represent the interests of students in those faculties by maintaining close contact with the faculty student councils of the science faculty and Acta.’

‘The UvA is indeed a bilingual university, but that is not always reflected in documents and reports’

Interest in student participation has long been waning. Election turnout always hovers around 12 percent. Why is that, do you think?

‘The possibility of participating as a student is not well known among many students. Also, many students do not realize what this participation can mean and achieve for them.’

What are you going to do about that in the coming year?

‘We will try to communicate more and better with students themselves and also with the student union Asva, for example, which maintains good contacts with student organizations inside and outside the UvA, and with student associations. We need to become more visible to students from all faculties so we will coordinate our plans closely with the faculty student councils.’

What are your other priorities for the coming year besides tackling the rapid growth of the UvA?

‘We will continue with sustainability so that the UvA, for example, can join forces with a truly sustainable house bank. Educational quality must continue to improve, particularly where decolonization of the curriculum and the provision of diverse perspectives in teaching materials is concerned. Student welfare also remains important, as does menstrual poverty among students. Menstrual products, for example, should be made available free of charge in all restrooms at the UvA, including the men's restrooms.’