Low Turnout at Voices of AUC 2019

By Alice Mechoulam

– On the evening of May 7, around 20 people showed up at Zeeburgia for the fifth edition of Voices of AUC. According to the Student Council (SC) and the organising team, the turnout was much lower compared to last year’s edition. This disappointing outcome, according to the organisers, seems to be the result of delayed promotion and unfortunate timing.

Once a year at the end of the spring semester, students, lecturers, and staff members are invited by the SC to share opinions, ideas, and concerns about the AUC community. These discussions are then collected in a comprehensive report written by the team. “It’s a great way for students to hold [the AUC management] responsible for their policies,” said Bart Knibbe, second-year Humanities major, SC member and part of the organising team of the event.

Voices lasted around three hours, including a dinner held by Pangea, AUC’s sustainability committee, and three performances in-between the roundtable discussions. Last year around 50 people participated, however this year, only half of the people expected showed up at the event.

Iván Hóka, first-year Social Sciences major and also one of the organisers, highlighted that the low attendance rate might threaten the representative value of the report, which every year is taken into account by the management team of AUC. The team behind Voices is considering tackling this issue by holding focus groups in June, soon after the report is published. This would allow for more insight into some topics discussed during the event.

A possible explanation for the low attendance of the staff is that the members of the organising team invited the lecturers and staff members on short notice. “We received the invitation pretty late; I didn’t have the date in my calendar, it’s not a big problem but for some colleagues, it may have been an issue,” said Michiel van Drunen, AUC teacher and director of education.

The attendance of students might have been affected by issues with the promotion of the event. “I think we advertised it a lot more than last year, but I feel that last year promotion was done a bit earlier,” said Jaël Kortekaas, second-year Sciences major, and member of the organising team.

Paula García, third-year Social Sciences major, SC member and also one of the organisers, said the promotion was delayed until the week before the event because of the spring break and a technical issue with the printer that would not allow them to print the posters in A3.

However, Knibbe said that more platforms were used to promote the event, such as TV screens at the AB, flyers in the mailboxes, posters, newsletters via email and Facebook posts. He and García even stood at the AB during lunch break the day before the event in order to promote Voices.

Yet, few students showed up. According to the organisers, the timing of the event might have played a role. “With the impending capstone deadlines and you know ‘the calm before the storm’ for many other students, it’s a difficult period in the semester to join events,” said Knibbe. Last year the event was held in April, but because of the timing of the SC elections and the spring break, this year’s team couldn’t pick another date than May 7.

On the same day, a salsa workshop by SlayUC was held in Maslow, which, according to Kortekaas and Knibbe, was another timing issue that may explain the low turnout. Although the SlayUC event happened after Voices, Kortekaas said that probably many people weren’t aware of this and therefore signed up for the workshop instead. She also said that AUCSA and the SC are two separate bodies and therefore they are not obliged to inform each other on their own events. Knibbe said communication between the two bodies should be improved to avoid such clashes in the future.

Voices serves to collect qualitative information about the AUC community which is relevant for next year’s management team’s policies. Even though this year’s report might not be quantitatively representative of AUC opinions, Knibbe is positive about the insightfulness of the discussions those 20 people had. “I am very proud of what we have achieved, and I think it was a successful edition of the event with definitely some points of improvements for next year,” said Knibbe.

Photo by Juanita García Gutiérrez

Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.

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