I started my board year in September 2020. I thought that at that point, we’d had left the worst part of the pandemic behind. Still, I was aware that a lot of measures would be in place for some time to come. This was indeed the case, all the measures have had an important impact on my board year so far, but not only in a negative sense. I started off halfway throughout my Master IEM (Industrial Engineering & Management). Before that, I finished a Bachelor in Technical Medicine. This academic experience gave me the impression that I already knew an awful lot about working together, about myself and that I already had a great skillset.
Acquiring new skills
The board year changed my view a lot. I was humbled quickly by a lot of the people I met during my board year, my fellow board members included. Everyone from our board has vastly different experiences and skills, which makes us a great team! This team work was even more increased by the specialised board trainings we have throughout the entire year. They range from negotiating, to a personality type analysis and even about listening to others and getting your own point across. Overall, I got taught a lot of skills I couldn’t have acquired otherwise than through sheer experience alone.
Besides everything I’ve learned in general, there are also a lot of great projects I undertook during my year as an SU board member. I’ll highlight some of these below.
For a large part of my board year, a lot of restrictions have been in place regarding offices and public spaces. Being the Accommodation Portfolio Holder of the Student Union, a large part of the responsibility for safely reopening these buildings lies with me. Together with the rest of the board, various associations and CFM we managed to open all UnionBuildings safely, and facilitated study spaces for students, offices for boards and in some instances even alternative locations for people to work on campus. Whilst managing these “new” tasks, I was also able to renovate the rental system in the Bastille, and take on various projects where large parts of the Bastille will be renovated entirely.
In my Finance portfolio, I am responsible for the financial report and the budget plan of the entire SU. Besides that, I also help various associations and committees with their finances (Kick-In committee, Create Tomorrow and TedXTwenteU). The handling of the reports and budget plan has gone well, and during our financial participants council meeting, an overwhelming amount of respondents found my explanation of the finances very insightful and clearly understandable. A large project I took on is finding a possible compensation for associations that have been hit financially during the pandemic. Currently, I am analysing the finances of a lot of Union-recognised associations to see if the SU and UT can do something together to provide extra financial aid. This is a really interesting and educational project, and I hope that the results will be there soon to show for it.
The Stek, the Atrium and the Unionshop, all located in the Bastille, compose the main part of the Business Management portfolio. Whilst these locations have been closed for a large part of the year due to the pandemic, that does not mean that they don’t deserve any attention. We’ve set up a working group to develop new plans for the Stek. Currently, we’re hoping to start the renovations this academic year. What it’s going to become will be announced soon, but it will add an entire new dimension to the Bastille.
The Unionshop is the place for students on campus to get their study materials. However, we’ve been struggling with sales and proper product management in the last few years. We decided on working together with students to see how we can properly improve this. Currently, I’m guiding an IEM bachelor student with his Bachelor Thesis on the Unionshop, which will hopefully lead to some recommendations on how to improve the Unionshop in general.
I’m also responsible for the ICT within the Student Union. The SU has an advisory right on all ICT facilities for students at the UT. This has led to me now joining the digitalisation team for the Shaping2030 plan of the UT. I’ve also improved the GDPR compliance of the SU and provided a way for associations to get help on improving their organisations’ privacy regulations. Besides that, I’m also overseeing the students that are working on an entirely new portal for associations to keep track of their members, finances and documentation, and we’re working together with CFM-sport to find a new digital system for the UnionCard.
Being a SU board member
Obviously, there’s a lot more to a board year with the Student Union. There’s just too much to mention all in one blog post. What’s great to keep in mind however, is that you can take on as many projects as you like during your year. Everything you’re doing is for your fellow students, and you’re instantly gratified each time you take on or finish a project, because you can directly see how it impacts your peers. That’s also the best part of the Student Union in my opinion. Everything you do has an impact on students at the UT, and improving their student lives is one of the best things you can do. I’ve enjoyed my time as a student tremendously so far, so why not try and make it even better for those that have yet to come?