By Sebastian Meyjes
UCR Section Editor
Every semester, RASA and the HAC hold General Assemblies (GAs). The first one of each semester is held to inform the student body of their finances, and have those plans and briefings approved. On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, the first GA of the 2013-2014 academic year was held. The turnout of the student body was quite low, with fewer than a quarter of the student population present. Here is a brief overview of the proceedings of the RASA General Assembly:
1) 2012-2013 RASA Budget and Expenses
The first issue addressed was the previous board’s budget and expenses. In the absence of former RASA Treasurer, Sven Kooiman, former RASA Chair, Gerd Coenen gave a brief summary of last year’s income and expenditures of RASA (€77,130.75 and €72,163.16, respectively), which was audited and approved by the Independent Body, and subsequently approved by the GA.
The budget for this year (€24,675) was also presented and approved.
2) Goals and Projects of RASA
The new RASA board then gave us an overview of their projects and proposals. The project with the most immediate benefit to students is the Discount Pass that all students receive. With this pass, students will receive discounts at a number of shops in Middelburg. RASA also initiated a project in which they and the student societies sign a symbolic contract that explains the duties and obligations of both RASA and the society board members.
3) RASA Policy Proposals and Changes
RASA also proposed a couple policy changes, one of which was the ban of proxy voting in student society elections. According to RASA Chair, Inge Zwart, this policy proposal resolves a current ambiguity in current RASA policy. She added that it is exceptionally difficult to check and confirm the validity of proxy voting. It was also pointed out during the discussion that proxy voting allowed for manipulation of society elections, since people could abuse the definition of active membership (having attended two society events) and have votes signed over to them by people who qualify but have no real interest in the society.
On the other hand, it was pointed out by some students present that if people are interested in multiple societies, and those societies hold elections at the same time, or there is a conflict with classes, or someone is just ill, people wouldn’t have a chance to vote even though they are actively participating members. However, in the end, the GA agreed upon this policy change.
4) Open Floor
At the end of the RASA board proceedings came the Open Floor. During the Open Floor, UCR student, Bastiaan Dillmann proposed that the RASA contribution fee be raised according to the rise of inflation. Mr. Dillmann purported that this would result in an increase of 15 euros. During this discussion, several students raised concerns about the RASA donation to the Common House Elliott. Students pay as part of their 75-euro RASA contribution fee, 25 euros that is taken out as a donation from RASA to the Common House. As Mr. Dillmann is the former treasurer of Common House Elliott, he responded to these concerns by pointing out that students of UCR are not members of Elliott as they are with RASA because of the legal difference between the two entities. Accordingly, Elliott is given money from the student body through the form of a RASA donation.
After the Open Floor, the AAC briefed the GA on the Capstone Projects, the results of the Catch-Up Week, as well as some changes in UCR Council representation.
The Capstone Project will now be a graduation requirement. It will consist of a portfolio, dissertation, and a presentation which will be held the week after the semester ends. The dissertation can be a paper submitted in most 300-level courses, though that course has to be pre-approved, an Independent Research Project or an Honors Thesis. The portfolio will consist of selected work from each student’s career at UCR.
The Catch-Up Week, which was exceptionally popular among students last semester, was distinctly unpopular with most of the faculty. Discussions about how, and if, it will happen in the future are still ongoing.
The AAC is also going through some policy changes in order to comply with Dutch law. Under the new policy, the AAC may not have one person representing them at both the UCR Council and Board of Studies, so now they have split the duties over three members rather than two, as was previously done.
At the conclusion of the RASA GA, the HAC promptly began their separate GA forum.
Sebastian Meyjes, class of 2015, is a History and Philosophy major from Cottonwood, Arizona, United States.