Representative Advisory Councils

Just a single person can make a difference: maybe you?

30 Mar 2021 07:49 | Representative Advisory Councils

Elijah Alvares is the AUAS student assessor, a position supported by the Representative Advisory Council. In this column he looks back on how the recent elections for the Dutch House of Representatives have inspired him and he calls on students to stand in the Representative Advisory Council elections.

As a politics junkie I can confidently say that these were historic parliamentary elections. Not because of the umpteenth shift to the right; after all, the VVD has been the strongest party for the last ten years and the extreme right-wing has been represented in our parliament for some time. But what was historic was the very first member of parliament with a headscarf, and above all: that single seat for Bij1, a party set up and led by a black woman. I’d say that’s something to draw inspiration from.

The first MP with a headscarf, and the first party headed by a black woman in the House of Representatives. That’s never happened before and just by being in parliament, they already make a difference. There’ll be many of you who are now thinking, ‘Oh, really?’ Well, yes! Because this is the countervailing power a representative has. For the next four years – whether they like it or not – people will be exposed to the ideas of the person occupying that seat. The person who partly determines what subjects are debated, what solutions are (or are not) proposed and what direction the discussion moves in. This is how you exert influence and use it to benefit everyone. In this way, an individual person can make a difference. If they can then also link up and establish a constructive collaboration with other parliamentary factions, this role is amplified even more.

This is something we experience at AUAS, too. We have a Representative Advisory Council at every level – university, faculty, programme. Twice a month you sit down for a meeting with management. This may be the chair of the executive board, the dean or the programme manager. So it’s top level consultation! You get the chance to speak on behalf of your peers at AUAS, so you really have a say. If you’re a student, you also get an allowance. What’s more, you get to know many people and gain administrative experience. So as an individual you make a difference for both others and yourself. Something for you, maybe? I think it is!