‘Student associations are not very visible’

Jozien Wijkhuijs 18-01-2017, 08:28

Dita, Giulia, and Garance. Photo: Vox

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Yesterday, student associations reacted reluctantly to Gerard Meijer's appeal on them to do more for international students. The recently resigned chairman of the board said that the associations do not keep up in the process of internationalisation. But do the international students even want to join an association?

Giulia Proverbio (25), Garance Chevalier (19) en Dita Gruntmane (21), various studies.

Giulia: ‘I am not a member of any association. Maybe I would if I stayed longer, but I am only here for one semester. A sorority is not really something you can join for just one semester, I think. But I would not join a sorority anyway. I am here to study, and do not really feel the need to become a member of something like that just to party.’

Garance: ‘My stay here lasts a year, but I am also not a member. Everything the associations do is in Dutch, so I do not really know what they do. I do know about an association called Synergy, but that is only because they showed us a résumé or something. ’

Dita: ‘I think it would be good for our interaction with Dutch people. If you do not join something like that, it’s hard to get meaningful relationships with them. I only know international people, except maybe my mentors from orientation week.’

Garance: ‘If the associations want to reach more international students, it might be good to visit the library, there are lots of internationals there all day. I once saw some people in blue shirts, doing something like that. I did notice them, so that might work!’

Hannah (likes to remain anonymous), bachelor student cultural anthropology.

‘I am a member of my study association, but the program is in Dutch, and I also speak Dutch, so it was easier for me. What I noticed in my job as a teaching assistant, however, is the way international students and Dutch students are divided because of the language barrier in associations. I once helped out in a class and suggested that all students could go to a certain party together. They could not, however, because the  international students did not become a member of the study association, since everything was in Dutch. It would help integration if all students would join associations together.’

Yiorgos Kalampalikis (27), pre-master in economics.

‘I am not interested in these kinds of groups, because I don’t have enough time due to the high work load. Maybe if I had time and was approached by a group that appealed to me, but currently this is not the case. To be honest, I really don’t know anything about student associations on campus. No information was given to me, except one paper and a comment in a lecture, but I still don’t really know what is offered or how to join. I know that they organise activities, but I was hoping that they would be designed to help us more in our studies and provide academic help. There is not a lot of visibility or outreach. I could imagine joining a sports group or a group of people with the same field of study, for academic support.’

Read Gerard Meijer’s farewell interview here and the association’s reaction here.

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