By Ties Gijzel
— A month after Voices of AUC took place, the organization team is handing over the final step of their project to a group of five students. Their task is to draft a report that will summarize the main concerns that were addressed at the event.
The main issues at stake during the event were AUC’s low socio-economic diversity, administrative problems and the emulous excellence list. Every AUC student will be given the opportunity to comment on the report’s final draft. By doing so, the reporting team aims to make the report an accurate reflection of the entire student body. The final report will be presented to the newly arriving dean before the beginning of the next academic year.
Voices of AUC offered a platform for more than 50 students, management and staff to brainstorm about the future of their university. Michael Vermeer, the third-year student who established Voices of AUC, pulled out a call for five motivated and inspired students to volunteer to draft a report. “Originally we ourselves planned to continue these efforts,” Vermeer said. “But after consulting my capstone supervisor, who’s also an expert on deliberative practices such as Voices of AUC, he consulted us that, to really empower students to take these ideas in their own hands, we should also democratize the process of writing the report.”
The five students in the reporting team are Stijn Wilbers, Lia den Daas, Carolin Vahar-Matiar, and Maaike Sangster, all second years, and first year Ewoud Labordus. Vahar-Matiar indicated that the reporting team has already had their first meeting in which they collected everything that was written down by Voices of AUC’s participants. “The idea is that the report will be structured in the same way as the evening, so it will also be ‘dreaming, thinking, doing’,” she said. Vahar-Matiar indicated that the report will focus on four themes that highlight the main issues that were identified by all groups at the end of the ‘doing round’.
According to Vahar-Matiar, the four themes that stood out during the “doing” round were the low socio-economic diversity at AUC (many students consider the school to be “very white European”), the excellence list, and two administrative matters–Science students often not having enough courses left for a minor and AUC being better as a four-year program. This way students would have more time to take extra courses out of different disciplines and can easily study abroad for a semester or even an entire year.
Vahar-Matiar’s motivation to join the reporting team was that she saw a constructive platform in Voices of AUC. “Obviously AUC is quite a new institution, but I also feel that AUC hasn’t changed that much in the years so far,” Vahar-Matiar said. According to her, the reason for AUC’s stagnation is not a lack of complaints but rather a lack of constructive criticism. “There is no interaction with the AUC faculty, and in order to make a real difference at AUC you need to have solutions to offer and you need to engage more with the management and faculty. Otherwise nothing is going to change,” she added.
Before the reporting team’s first meeting they consulted the event management team about the approach they would take. They decided to submit a draft report that will be showed to all the students that participated in the event. This gives them the opportunity to comment on whether they think the report is an accurate reflection of what they discussed in the event.
According to the reporting team, the report should also be an accurate reflection of AUC students in general. For this reason, the idea is to share the report’s final draft with all AUC students so that all students can read it and decide whether they agree with the overarching message. The names of the people that support the report will then be included in a list at the end of the report.
It remains unclear how the new dean will perceive the report. However, the reporting team hopes that its aim to incorporate as many students as possible will propel the message forward. “I think it will be much more powerful and influential to the dean and to the rest of the AUC management if we have a hundred, two hundred or three-hundred students that agree rather than it just representing the 50 students at the event,” Vahar-Matiar said.