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Blog Manouk Ramselaar - Portfolio holder academic development and education

My start during Covid-19

In March 2020, I started my board year at the Student Union as portfolio holder Personal Development and Education. At the moment that I started, I wasn’t aware at all that this would be a very unique year for a Student Union Board member. I faced a lot of challenges, challenges of which I thought they were difficult to deal with. However, challenges also create opportunities in which you learn a lot, you get to know your strengths and your weaknesses, and you learn how to use those. I had a lot of reasons to work hard, but my biggest motivation to move forward in those challenging times, was the fact that I wanted to help and create opportunities for my fellow students!

Online Activism

When we ended up in a partial lock down in March 2020, the first thing that I wanted to do, was to make sure that activism at the UT wouldn’t decrease. The Activism Market that would take physically, was cancelled a week earlier. Therefore I had to make sure that, together with my personal development team and the communication team, an online activism market would be created. It was not perfect, but that was okay, we at least created a place in a short amount of time, where students would be able to find all the information they needed. We were amazed by how many students had a look at this webpage, way more than the amount of students that would have visited the physical Activism Market! Additionally, I found a way to keep track on how board recruitment was going at all the associations. I was proud to see that the pandemic didn’t have a huge effect upon the student activism at the UT. When writing this, I realize that I became proud of things or people, situations I previously wouldn’t have really cared about in such a way. My fellow board members and the whole Student Union organisation, made me incredibly motivated to do my work!

One example, is the week just before the start of the Kick-In. New measures were announced by the National Government. It seemed like nothing was possible anymore, only an online Kick-In could take place and no physical activities anymore. However, I learned in the past half year to not take no for an answer! Together with someone from strategy and policy, the KIC and the associations, we found a way to get approval for the physical activities. This wasn’t easy, I had a lot of conversations with the executive board and the municipality. Conversations in which I needed to convince them that the activities were necessary for the introduction of new students. I had to assure them, that we could trust the associations and that everything would be safe. After two weeks of hard work, we got approval after approval, that felt great as in the beginning we all thought we couldn’t make physical activities happen this year!  

This year was all about resilience. There were not a lot things that could stay the same. From the usual preboard trainings, we had to make online preboard trainings. Those online trainings were visited by way more students than previous years. Instead of a physical board day, we have now created a board month, which creates even more interesting opportunities for the personal development of board members. Additionally, the pandemic gave me even a bigger reason to convince the UT that especially this year, it is important to create a board minor for students! I also realized that the regular meetings with study associations became more important than ever. During these meetings I was able to gather relevant input about 1.5m education, which I then passed on to the responsible persons for education at the UT.

More Than A Degree

All in all, I liked the challenges that I had to face, I learned a lot and I loved helping my fellow students to make the best out of their board year in those unusual times. Hopefully, a lot of students will realize, just like me, that doing More Than A Degree is great!