020 believes in profound democratic ideals on both a societal and organizational level. This permeates everything we do and what we stand for.

When writing policies for the UvA council, we consult the student body, professors, and any stakeholders concerned with a proposal. However, it goes beyond our actions within the university. 020 sees higher education as a cornerstone of society. Also, the experiences we have here and the things we learn will shape the future.

As such, we believe that for a University to flourish, the student body should be given full transparency and be represented in the university’s decision-making processes. In that way, the professors, University staff, and the students can cooperate to make the UvA a better and safer center of education.

A hands-on approach to improving the UVA

What will 020 change to make UvA more democratic?

1

A more active promotion of the election

020 believes that the UvA could sponsor the elections and all the parties involved through its Instagram official page.

2

Let the parties put another candidate forward

We believe that the UvA should let parties use that surplus of votes (in case a party gets many votes) to put forward another candidate.

3

Protecting the legitimacy of the student council elections

020 invites the University of Amsterdam to be more vigilant in protecting the legitimacy of the student council elections.

A more active promotion of the election

The Problem

Currently, a large part of the student body at the University of Amsterdam is unaware of the student council system and the inner workings of UvA bodies.

Students are not conscious of their role in these processes and do not participate in elections. This fact leads to a low voter turnout. A low turnout transmits to student preference not being fully represented and reported. Also, leading to an unfair distribution and delegation of council members and decision making. Furthermore, in encouraging a more transparent decision-making system between the university and students. It is first necessary that students know that the system itself exists and the role they can play in it.

The Solution

The University of Amsterdam should be more active in promoting the elections. The UvA could sponsor the elections and all the parties involved through its Instagram official page. The general election always faces low turnouts because students are not aware of them or don’t know how to vote. Thus, the UvA could promote the elections by posting stories on its Instagram page to increase awareness among students. Besides, the UvA should start this process at least one month before to let the students enough time to consult its website and find out all the parties.

Additionally, student associations could promote the elections through their channels since they are closed to students. Besides, students’ associations are in all WhatsApp groups of the UvA courses. This creates a significant opportunity for them to raise awareness among students about the coming elections. These student associations could send some messages in the student WhatsApp groups starting from a month before the elections. 020 believes that the UvA and student associations could be the key to increasing the yearly elections’ turnout.

Interested in the way 020 will implement these sustainability policies and what the costs of that will be? Reach out to our Policy and Research Team!

Let the parties put another candidate forward

The Problem

As it stands, the UvA council election rules allow for a situation where student’s risk their votes becoming irrelevant and, as such, will become disenfranchised.

When a new party or minor party runs for council, they might not have many candidates on the list yet. Should they gain votes amounting to more seats in the council, they have candidates; parties cannot fill that surplus with a new candidate. Instead, the council will fill that seat themselves by hiring a council’s assistant. While 020 recognizes that putting a candidate forward that was not on the ballot is not ideal, disregarding valid student votes poses a democratic risk. It is problematic because it is a candidate that students vote for and the broader party ideals. Replacing that seat with an anonymous unelected student would silence those ideals.

The Solution

We let parties use that surplus of votes to put forward another candidate. This way, even though they were not on the ballot initiative, we make sure that the seat is filled by somebody holding the same ideals and views that those students have voted for.

The student body can be better represented, and we can counteract disillusionment with the decision-making process at the UvA. Furthermore, this would make it easier for smaller and newer parties to start growing.

It should be noted that, of course, the exact procedures of this policy need to be well formulated. For example, it is not unreasonable to give the party a specific time limit in which they have to decide. This is necessary because council members will need training and the UvA organisation needs to move on with its work. Another thing to look at is a possible limit to how many seats in surplus a party can fill. While in the cases of one or two seats, we argue that the democratic process would lose valuable representatives. We should avoid cases where people can run independently and fill the remaining seats with friends or associates.

Interested in the way 020 will implement these sustainability policies and what the costs of that will be? Reach out to our Policy and Research Team!

Protecting the legitimacy of the student council elections

The Problem

While the power that the student council holds is far from comparable to national democratic institutions, the legitimacy of the democratic process should not be taken any less lightly.

Unfortunately, this has been the case in the past. There have been instances during council elections when parties have material stimuli for people to vote outside the realm of substantive policy proposals. In effect, this means that some parties have tried to buy people’s votes in exchange for a material benefit. Moreover, this went so far that these things would be turned out in return for a screenshot of a vote for that party. The advantage that bigger parties with more means and funds already have in campaigning would be exacerbated by transactions such these. It undermines the democratic process and delegitimizes the system of student representation the UvA has put in place. Nevertheless, the University did not undertake any substantial action to either penalize or prevent such things from happening again.

The Solution

The UvA should be more vigilant in protecting the legitimacy of the student council elections.

This is one of the only ways the student body can let their voices be heard and hold some power over the decision-making process. Also, this should not be taken lightly and any attempts to undermine this process should be prohibited. Furthermore, just prohibiting alone is not enough, but the University should actively think of measures of how to enforce this policy. After all, if it comes to light that votes have been won illegitimately and nothing happens, what is to stop people from doing it again?

Interested in the way 020 will implement these sustainability policies and what the costs of that will be? Reach out to our Policy and Research Team!