[Live Blog] Student Council Election Debate: As It Happens

By Christine van der Horst

Welcome to our live coverage of the 2017 student council election debate on Wednesday May 17. Below you will find continuously updated and time-stamped coverage of the debate.

  • 18:39: Sofija Stefanovic (Student Council) announces the start of the debate. She highlights that the debate is, besides a chance to get to know the different parties and their candidates, also a chance to get informed about the student council as a student body in general. Each party will get about two minutes to introduce themselves. Afterwards, both the current student council and the audience will get the opportunity to ask questions. There will also be a scenario-play at the end.


  • 18:43: Adele Beinaraviciute (W.I.S.E) starts. She says W.I.S.E wants to focus on both practical short-term goals, such as having a UvA psychologist on campus and 16-week language courses, and long-term goals, such as revision of certain aspects of the curriculum.


  • 18:44: Jaime Lopes (Alma Matters) takes the stage. Alma Matters wants to reduce the numbers of required courses and prerequisites. They want to improve what matters to us: DUWO, the tutoring system, and mental health issues. Alma Matters wants the student council to get more attention and work together with AUCSA.


  • 18:47: Suzanne Broer (Poppin’ Pillars) starts introducing her party. She introduces herself and the number two on the list, Jelle Ages, and their motivation to run for student council. Key points of their program include the possibility to do a seventh semester without losing your honour’s degree and a better transition to masters.


  • 18:50: Lea Bonasera (Triple C) takes the stage. Bonasera shortly explains the three ‘C’s’ that are at the base of the party’s program: Communication, Curriculum and Continuation.


  • 18:53: Sarah Stapel (Student Council) asks the question: “How are you going to provide an active platform for students to voice their concerns and how are you going to maintain this platform?”


  • 18:54: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) wants to continue the Focus Groups, Facebook polls and white boards on the ground floor. She also wants to restructure the websites and introduce office hours.


  • 18:55: Adele (W.I.S.E) agrees with Suzanne, but wants to restructure the Focus Groups. They should lead up to Voices Of AUC. She hopes that would encourage engagement.


  • 18:56: Lea (Triple C) says that they want to make use of the possibilities of Facebook.


  • 18:57: Artemiy Kovynev (Alma Matters) thinks Facebook discussions should be restructured. He doesn’t think office hours would be well-attended.


  • 18:58: Sarah (Student Council) asks a follow-up question: “How are you planning on representing the student body in important decisions when you don’t have the time to research the student opinion?”


  • 18:59: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) says you should be able to make decisions as a team.


  • 19:00: Jaime (Alma Matters) says he would contact previous student councils.


  • 19:01: Adele (W.I.S.E) would reach out to teachers and faculty members and make a decision through communication with people with knowledge.


  • 19:02: There is a question from the audience. Saga asks W.I.S.E what they would do if there is also no time to reach out to teachers and faculty.


  • 19:03: Adele (W.I.S.E) answers that she is confident that she and the other student council members will have the knowledge needed to make a good decision.


  • 19:05: Louis ten Bosch (future Secretary of the AUCSA) asks Alma Matters how they are planning or improving the cooperation between AUCSC and AUCSA.


  • 19:06: Jaime Lopes (Alma Matters) answers that mental health is important to both AUCSA and AUCSC and they should combine powers to tackle mental health problems, through for example collaboration between Peer Support and AUCSC.


  • 19:07: Adele (W.I.S.E) also expresses that joining forces with AUCSA and any other student body and improving mental health are on their party’s program.


  • 19:08: Fatiya Munkaila (Student Council) asks: “How do you make sure that the student council gets the student opinion without becoming a complain box?”


  • 19:09: Lea (Triple C) wants to use what’s already there. They want to continue working with the class representatives.


  • 19:10: Eleonora Gelmetti (W.I.S.E) wants to prevent this by making sure to frame and formulate questions in a constructive way. She also wants to keep the class representatives.


  • 19:11: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) believes that there will always be students who are motivated to really change things and not only complain.


  • 19:12: A question from the audience: “How are you planning on representing all students, also the ones who are not actively voicing their opinion?”


  • 19:13: Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) says he will keep his eyes open all the time and take into account every voice he hears, also those in the classrooms and hallways.


  • 19:14: Adele (W.I.S.E) wants to make the discussion more available to all students by talking to people in person, but says reaching all students is impossible and that that is something the student council will have to accept.


  • 19:15: A question from the audience: “How are you planning on changing the list-system for the student council election as this system is created by VU?”


  • 19:16: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) says she realizes this might be difficult, but says there is a lot of overlap between the party’s programs so she would like to see a change.


  • 19:18: Jaime (Alma Matters) says he likes the list system because you vote for an idea rather than a person. However, he wants the campaign period to be planned earlier in the year (not after the AUCSA elections) and he wants it to be one week instead of two, because people have short attention spans.


  • 19:23: Stefan (audience, member of Peer Support) asks Alma Matters if they want to elaborate on how they would like to improve mental health and how they would want to cooperate with Peer Support.


  • 19:24: Jaime (Alma Matters) says he wants to work closely with Peer Support and the Student Life Officer to implement effective policies to reduce stress and improve everyone’s experience at AUC.


  • 19:26: Stefan asks Poppin’ Pillars what they have to say about mental health issues.


  • 19:26: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) says their focus lies on putting people in the right place.


  • 19:27: Triple C wants to focus more on the roots of the stress rather than enhancing all the things that fight the stress.


  • 19:30: Rayan Vugdalic (Student Council) asks the candidates to make their answers shorter and more concrete. From now on, they will all get one minute per question.


  • 19:32: Question from the audience: “Do you have any concrete plans to improve the masters database?”


  • 19:33: Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) wants to extend and enhance the masters database through more communication with UvA about the requirements for AUC students to get into masters at UvA and they also wants tutors to offer better guidance.


  • 19:34: Artemiy (Alma Matters) also wants tutors to play a bigger role in the transition to a masters.


  • 19:35: Question from the audience: “How do you want to work in a transparent manner?”


  • 19:35: Rayan (Student Council) announces that the candidates now only have 30 seconds to answer questions.


  • 19:36: Jaime (Alma Matters) want to post all minutes on the student council facebook group instead of only on blackboard.


  • 19:36: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) wants to post summaries of the meetings on Facebook.


  • 19:37: Lea (Triple C) thinks transparancy goes hand in hand with visibility.


  • 19:38: Sofija (Student Council) asks what the candidates are planning on doing if AUC doesn’t have the resources to put their ideas into practice.


  • 19:39: Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) believes it is important to be creative and go to other universities/students/peoples to get those resources.


  • 19:40: Jaime (Alma Matters) says we should take advantage of what we already have: excellent and diverse people, with excellent (and free) skills.


  • 19:40: Adele (W.I.S.E) says she wants to reach out to students at UvA and VU.


  • 19:41: Sarah (Student Council) announces that we are moving on to party specific questions.


  • 19:41: Alma Matters wants to make Academic Writing a three credit course and combine it with another three credit course of choice. Sarah asks Alma Matters how they are planning on doing this, regarding the lack of three credit courses at AUC.


  • 19:42: Jaime (Alma Matters) says this is more of a long-term plan and they would also want to change the credits and time-span of the Global Identity Experience.


  • 19:43: Question from the audience. “When you make this course a three credit course, does that mean that you think it is less useful?”


  • 19:44: Jaime (Alma matters) believes Academic Writing is an important course, but certain elements, such as the four-week group project, do not add anything.


  • 19:45: Eleonora (W.I.S.E) emphasizes that erasing core courses is nearly impossible. W.I.S.E wants to improve courses rather than immediately erase them; there is a reason these courses are part of the academic core.


  • 19:47: Jaime (Alma Matters) says he also doesn’t want to turn Academic Writing into a three credit course immediately. He would want the course to work more like the Writing Center.


  • 19:48: Alma Matters wants different Logic groups based on level. Sarah (Student Council) asks how they would respond to the critique that this way, students miss out on each other’s expertise.


  • 19:49: Artemiy (Alma Matters) says students would be able to switch groups after every exam.


  • 19:51: Question from the audience: “How would you make this work with different teaching hours?”


  • 19:53: Sarah (Student Council): “How do you plan on providing a platform for intellectual diversity at AUC? How would teachers have to facilitate this?”


  • 19:54: Jaime (Alma matters) responds that students should be able to vote on which readings they are going to discuss in class.


  • 19:56: Question from the audience: “Wouldn’t that work the opposite way, as students would only read and discuss what they want to read and discuss?”


  • 19:57: Jaime (Alma Matters): Students will also chose readings they didn’t agree with or didn’t know about before because they want to explore those.


  • 20:00: Sofija (Student Council) announces that they will now move on to the next party: Poppin’ Pillars. She starts about the seventh semester that Poppin’ Pillars wants to make possible. She says it will be very expensive for AUC to facilitate this and asks if Poppin’ Pillars thinks it’s worth the money, because it might hurt the quality of the education.


  • 20:01: Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) says it won’t cost AUC a lot of money, because a lot of students will be gone during one semester (on exchange, or doing a community project), which is why they need a seventh. Suzanne says they could raise the tuition fee for students that want a seventh semester.


  • 20:02: Question from the audience: “Would a seventh semester only be possible for students who want to use it for an exchange or community project?”


  • 20:05: Yes, Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) answers. They will have to draw a line somewhere.


  • 20:06: Question from the audience: “Would you still pay tuition fee during your semester abroad/outside AUC?”


  • 20:07: Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) says that this would be the case, because you’re still registered as a student.


  • 20:08: Sofija (Student Council) asks for elaboration on Poppin’ Pillars plan to offer more lab courses. Lab courses are expensive and right now, many existing lab courses are poor-attended.


  • 20:09: Poppin’ Pillars responds that they would promote the lab courses more and would possibly ask students to pay more.


  • 20:10: Sofija (Student Council) notices that this way, only rich students would be able to do a seventh semester and spend a sufficient amount of hours in the lab.


  • 20:11: Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) responds that they would only ask students to pay more for lab courses as a last resource.


  • 20:12: Question from the audience: “You want to make it easier for students to follow courses at the UvA and VU. But AUC might not be fond of this idea, because they want to keep students here. How are you planning on working around this?”


  • 20:14: Jelle (Poppin’ Pillars) believes AUC should be supportive, because it would smoothen the transition to a masters. Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) mentions they will only be able to promote UvA/VU courses to a certain extent anyway, because many are taught in Dutch.


  • 20:16: Rayan (Student Council) moves on to Triple C. He asks about their idea to do introductory courses in the first semester, which was highly criticized on Facebook.


  • 20:16: Triple C clarifies that they have removed this plan from their program. They still want to change the first semester and allow students to do more exploring, but in a less radical way.


  • 20:18: Question from the audience: “Your policy plan is by far the shortest and certain problems aren’t mentioned at all. Did you really think about these things?”


  • 20:19: Mona (Triple C) says they have. They deliberately chose to address only a few problems extensively instead of many superficially.


  • 20:21: It’s W.I.S.E’s turn to answer party-specific questions. Question from the audience: “You want to improve the canteen. What is your priority? Do you want to make it cheaper, or do you think it is more important to have more vegetarian/vegan options?”


  • 20:22: Eleonora (W.I.S.E) says the biggest problem right now, that underlies all others, is that the canteen is dependent on UvA. A first step would be to break that tie and make it a student-run canteen.


  • 20:25: Question from Tirsa With (audience): “Do you have any specific plans on how to improve AUC’s diversity?”


  • 20:26: Adele (W.I.S.E) proposes inviting specialists on diversity. She also wants to pay more attention to the diversity we already have.


  • 20:27: Tirsa asks how they would want to make the student body in particular more diverse.


  • 20:28: Adele (W.I.S.E) says this is something they want to think about and work on, but also emphasizes that she believes that AUC’s academic standards should be determining in the application procedure, rather than the cultural/social background of the applicant.


  • 20:30: Fatiya introduces the next part: Scenario-play. She introduces the DAP-award (The Diversity Award program), which has been abolished. Now AUC is looking for a way to spend this money, through which it will still support and improve diversity of the student body.


  • 20:37: The question was not clear among all candidates. The answers did not really relate to the question.


  • 20:40: Comment from the audience: “This is not a hypothetical situation. The money is there: I believe there should go more money to the admission’s office and I think the student council should pressure this.”


  • 20:41: Adele (W.I.S.E) says though she believes money can often be an issue at AUC, she agrees that there are many reasons to spend more money on promoting and stimulating diversity.


  • 20:46: Adele (W.I.S.E) wants to improve the way in which first-years are received at AUC. She suggests a student-support group, so a group of second- and third-year students who help out first-years on their arrival.


  • 20:49: Someone from the audience shares his opinion that AUC should work on it’s demographics. The majority of students is either Dutch or European. He suggests working with representatives to improve AUC’s diversity.


  • 20:51: A third-year from the audience asks for clarification on how the parties want to improve the transition from AUC to a masters program.


  • 20:52: Jaime (Alma Matters) says he wants tutors to be more proactive and wants professors to be more informed about masters in their field of study.


  • 20:53: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) mentions that this question was already asked earlier during the debate, but repeats that she wants to enlarge the database and appoint a masters advisor.


  • 20:54: Artemiy (Alma Matters) asks how a masters advisor would work, because it would cost a lot of money and he doesn’t think people would make good use of it.


  • 20:55: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) says they would try to promote the masters advisor as much as possible.


  • 20:56: Sarah (Student Council) asks if there are any last burning questions and closes the debate.


  • 20:57: Sofija (Student Council) emphasizes once more the importance of voting. The student council represents the student body in many different issues that concern everyone.


  • 20:59: Julian Visser (audience, runs for Poppin’ Pillars) has one last burning question after all. He asks how the parties are planning on promoting the student council.


  • 21:00: Jaime (Alma Matters) wants to talk to students.


  • 21:01: Suzanne (Poppin’ Pillars) mentions the possibility of creating an AUCSC Instagram account.


  • 21:04: The election debate has come to an end.



Thank you for reading our live blog! You can vote for the party of your choice tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday at the AB. Friday at 17:00 the counting of the votes will start and the new Student Council will be announced.

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