It’s always thrilling, the announcement of the results of the university elections. But this year, rector magnificus Elmer Sterken upped the tension even more. Just before he was due to announce the distribution of seats in the faculty and university councils, Sterken had to attend a speech. And that took longer than planned.
So there they were. At exactly 5 p.m. all students were present in the Glass Room of the Van Swinderenhuys, stealthily checking their watches. Party pins on their chests, nervously sipping beer and wine. Nobody dared to try their luck at a prognosis, because with five parties it was even harder to predict the outcome than usual.
Only Ruben Tan, of the One Man Gang, feebly tried: ‘How many people voted for me? At least six that I know of.’
Troublingly low turnout
By the time that Sterken, who at half an hour was fashionably late, was ready to start his announcement, he had a hard time getting the crowd to settle down. Still, the rector magnificus was pleased with the large attendance, he said – but less so with the troublingly low turnout.
Only 25.99 percent of the students voted for the university council. That is 2 percent less than last year. Many of the faculty councils, especially those of the Faculty of Business and Economics and that of Science and Engineering, also received fewer votes than in 2017.
‘It’s really troubling’, Sterken said about the declining numbers. ‘Of course, no one that’s here tonight is to blame. You have all been working so hard and I thank you for your effort.’
But, as these things go in elections, not all the hard work will pay off. Veterans of SOG and Calimero both have to deal with the loss. They each went from five to four seats – even though Calimero can boast having won the most votes, 150 more than SOG.
‘I’m happy we are the largest party when it comes to votes’, says the number one on the list, Younes Moustaghfir. ‘Four seats is a great result. We’re going to use them to do great things this year.’
SOG looked less happy. Still, front man Gijs Verhoeff tried to keep his spirits up. ‘Of course I had hoped our mandate would be bigger’, he says. ‘I think we, as a party, deserved a greater reward for all the work we’ve done this year. These results show that we have to work together. You cannot get things done with just one party.’ The WhatsApp group with all party leaders has already been created.
The newcomers, however, are celebrating. Ruben Tan’s supporters cheered ‘One man Gang! One Man Gang!’ at the sight of the results: Tan’s mission succeeded, he earned his seat.
Free hot water
‘Fantastic’, he says, over the moon. He had been quite anxious beforehand, he acknowledges, even though he always believed in himself. ‘If I hadn’t believed that, I wouldn’t have started this.’
And what is he going to do with his newly acquired influence? ‘I will work to accomplish my two main issues’, he repeats yet again. ‘Free hot water and a smoker’s balcony.’ On top of that, he is also willing to cooperate with the other parties.
Nard Willemse of De Vrije Student is happy as well. ‘Of course, more seats would have been nice. But I’m excited that a vote has been cast for change. We wanted one seat and we got it.’
DAG keeps its two seats in the university council, but wins in other areas: with DAG Arts, the party entered in the elections for the council of the Faculty of Arts. They will have four out of nine seats over the next year. ‘We are very happy to have a vote there’, says party leader Bram Omvlee. D
AG is also happy with the results of the university council elections. ‘Stabilising our position was the goal. We wanted to stay in the council and we succeeded.’