During the elections, the campus is a place students are keen to avoid. Getting to classes between the green and blue noise is quite a challenge. And what does your vote matter? Both parties have almost the same objectives at first sight. Since February 2017, all student parties of Tilburg University, both those at a university level and those at a faculty level, have been discussing improving the elections. Unfortunately, these so-called covenant meetings have not resulted in any significant changes.
The lack of joint rules has led study associations and other student bodies to inform the board of the university on this issue. Also, SAM and Front have shared their experiences with Univers.
As faculty student parties we therefore feel the need to share with you what has happened, and why there is still no covenant. We have been present at all meetings and have seen what proposals have been made, and have then failed to gain support.
At the start of the entire process, we have together formulated three main goals. First, we want to limit the harassment during the elections. Second, and obviously related to the first, we want to improve the content of the elections to make the differences clearer. Third, we want to improve involvement of students with student participation.
These goals can be achieved in many ways. A first and perhaps most obvious one is limiting the number of people on campus asking for your vote during the elections. This primarily targets the first goal. An often-heard complaint however is that Front and SAM are at first glance the same anyway. This solution does not directly solve the problem.
Another option is to split the campaign and the elections. This will make the campaign more content-based, since students will have to remember the message in order to make a vote during the elections.
A third alternative is to limit the elections to a small area of the campus. Here, all parties can campaign as much as they like to convince students of their arguments, but outside this area students will not experience harassment.
During the covenant negotiations many alternatives have been discussed. However, none could count on unanimous support. Therefore, the faculty student parties have together supported a proposal to limit the number of campaigners on campus and to improve communication on the differences between the university parties. The latter of course requires that there are differences in the first place. We believe that during the negotiations we have found these, but that at the moment there is still much overlap.
Front and SAM together fail to agree on the points on which they differ, how to communicate these differences and to what extent then harassment can be limited by allowing less campaigners on campus. We as faculty student parties have attempted to mediate in this issue, but after nearly a year of negotiations we have been forced to conclude that the parties change to what we believe the student wants to an insufficient degree.
We therefore apologize to the students. We have not been able to change the elections. Also this year there will be harassment, just as in the years before. If you experience this as a student, and do not want to vote because you vaguely know someone but because you support someone’s ideas, there is only one thing to do. Make this clear during the elections. Let’s hope Front and SAM will than listen.