Groningen University Council Elections: Empty Words, Empty Smiles

Some time ago I asked myself  – as every year when the university council elections take place – if we (the students of Groningen) should maybe be thankful that we only hear from those “politics people” once a year. Considering the annoying emptiness of the words they speak in their campaigns. It’s almost as if young American politicians try to win your vote with their vacuous smiles. But the American presidential campaign is done theatrically to delude the mass of less educated voters. So. . . . why are our “politicians” at one of the “top 100 universities in the world” talking to us as if we were stupid? At least that’s how me and the majority of my friends feels in regards to our beloved student “representatives.”

I study at the RUG in Groningen for three years now, and every year the slogans are the same. The party members desperately try to get your vote, but what do things like “better education;” “more contact hours;” online lectures; and so on, mean? Whenever (or whoever) I asked how they want to achieve these things… the response was that of a true politician: Empty talk without a clear message or idea, but hey at least I got a smile, and if I would drink alcohol I might get some free drinks in exchange for my vote…

So enough frustration about the emptiness of RUG politics. You know what I would really like to hear? University parties organizing student protests. Protests against exams in mass programs (such as medicine or psychology) that are poor, unreliable, flawed, and could not (by any academic) be considered academic.  But of course. . . that’s not what student representatives are ought to do according to their council programs… Weird isn’t it?

Year after year students pay for education. More and more it seems like we are buying a degree just to call ourselves something, instead of actually learning what we wanted to learn. And then we leave university and pretend that we are the wisest, smartest, and most enlightened academic in the world.  Maybe that is how we get those kind of politicians, because our education truly doesn’t educate anymore. We enjoyed shit-education (apologies for my choice of words), that only demands us to read-and-repeat. Contact hours preferably without instructor, right?

And then? The parties are disappointed that only 28% of voters turned out to vote. And instead of realizing that this is a sign that students are unhappy with university politics, it is assumed that next year voters must be convinced even harder to go to progresswww and vote. Just to then disappear again for a year and do the things you do (whatever that is. . . seriously I have no clue what they even talk about, because they never seem to be able to explain what exactly they do).

A professor of mine reminded us last year that students have power, but only if we take that power. You’re unhappy with the exams? Boycott them. You’re unhappy with the quality of education? Boycott that too. Of course, if only one boycotts, nothing will happen. So you need to organize people. And who could do that? Who ought to represent the students? Well. . . those guys we see once a year. Those people that are commissioned to stand for student interests. Unfortunately, the only responsibilities that these people hold seems to be taking care of our canteen (seriously nobody cares). So far it doesn’t seem that our education is improving much (besides maybe the technologies we use). The one thing that is happening every year is that our programs become more suitable for mass fabrication of owners of a degree who know how to function in a pre-made system. Education is a mere illusion of education, and student representatives are part of the problem and not the solution.






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