By Lara Neervoort
— Ivana Neamtu, student member of the AUC board, is very up to date on all matters AUC and spoke with The Herring about the proposed governance change of AUC. On March 6, AUC Internal Communications sent out a message to all students, stating that the two Executive Boards (CvB) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Free University (VU) had proposed changes in the governance structure of AUC. The CvBs would like to place AUC under the science faculties of the UvA and the VU instead of directly under the CvBs. How will this change in governance structure affect AUC’s students and staff, and what are the developments on this proposed change?
To get more clarification on this matter, I met with Neamtu, student member of the AUC board. The AUC board consists of the Rector Magnificus of the VU, Prof. Dr. Frank van der Duyn–Schouten, the Rector Magnificus of the UvA, Prof. Dr. Dymph van der Boom, Acting Dean of AUC Prof. Dr. Ramon Puras, and Neamtu. “Being in the board, I am in close contact with both the CvB directors, which is why I was quite involved with the matter of the proposed change,” Neamtu said.
As the student member of the AUC board, Neamtu is in a very special position. “Your basic responsibilities include meeting with the AUC board, and if needed to provide advice,” she said. “But if you want to, you can become very involved, and I was indeed quite active. I have access to various kinds of information, and in my interactions at AUC I have to think about the different parties involved because I have access to so much information. At times, it can be difficult, but I always managed to not disclose information that I was not allowed to.”
This year was a very special one for the AUC Board. Before Neamtu started her tenure, she met with last year’s student member of the boardand was informed that this position would probably not cost her too much time. But that was definitely different this year. With the departure of Marijk van der Wende, the protests around the Bungehuis and the Maagdenhuis and the proposed change of AUC’s governance structure, the AUC board has had plenty to discuss.
Neamtu said the change in AUC’s governance structure was a hot topic this year. “I spent long evenings in the academic building with Ramon,” Neamtu said. I asked her about the current situation of AUC becoming a part of the science faculty of the UvA and VU, and she answered that it is just a proposed plan that is not set in stone yet. “It is an alternative to the current governance structure, but so many parties still have to approve it,” she said.
Neamtu told me that a feeling of unrest arose among the AUC staff after a rumor circulated that the AUC core faculty might be dismantled. After a teacher mentioned his concerns to his pupils, the anxiety further spread to the students, which then went to the Student Council for clarification.
“I don’t think that the situation is as dramatic as it sounds, as the students will still have the same activities as before,” Neamtu said. “They will not be directly affected by the fact that the AUC Dean reports to the Dean of Science instead of to the CvBs. Most students don’t even know the details of who the dean reports to.”
“It is also a matter of how we students decide to perceive this change,” Neamtu added. “The idea of the change itself is not meant to negatively affect the students in any way.”
Neamtu explained that the situation of the change in governance structure is delicate because of the recent developments with the student protests at the Bungehuis and Maagdenhuis. “The University boards have other things to be concerned with,” Neamtu said. “Things such as the Maagdenhuis protests are more urgent at the moment. Most likely, this issue will be more extensively discussed at a later time.”
Neamtu mentioned that because of the student protests, the CvBs have come to value the presence of a student member on the university boards more. “Although AUC students have protested because of a lack of transparency and democracy at the university, there is an open position on the AUC board that the students can apply for,” she said.