The International Platform isn’t a student party, says the third-year medicine student from Macedonia. It’s an ‘ad hoc movement’ to remedy the lack of international student representation on the University Council and other decision-making bodies at the university.
Matej told the UKrant that the university isn’t doing enough to help international students thrive. Students already trust and confide in him; now he wants a platform to make their voices heard by the people with the power to address their problems.
His decision to run was partly inspired by the anonymous confessions he received from students. He launched the RUG confessions page for fun, he says, but it quickly became a place where otherwise invisible students – with invisible problems like anxiety, depression, isolation, and discrimination – suddenly had a voice.
He was especially surprised to hear just how many students at the RUG struggle with mental health issues, and just how many of those students seemed to be internationals.
When he participated in the student occupation of the Academy building last September to protest the housing crisis, he realised he could do more. ‘You can think outside the system – by protesting – or you can try to think inside the system. I want to be where the decisions are made. It’s a pragmatic choice; I can make a difference there.’
So this week, Matej released a ten-page manifesto for the International Platform. In it, he casts an ambitious vision of a more involved student community that affects positive change despite the often intractable bureaucracy of the university. His campaign focuses on two major areas of concern for international students: healthy internationalisation, and mental health and discrimination.
He plans to help the university take more responsibility for both, he writes. ‘The lives of students are multidimensional and do not end at admission.’