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    The student council speaks: interview with Lisa Jongmans

    LISA: “WE REPRESENT THE STUDENTS AND THE MORE STUDENTS GIVE THEIR OPINION, THE MORE RELEVANT THE STUDENT COUNCIL WILL BE”

    Lisa Jongmans has just turned twenty but she is very ambitious. She is an international student from the Netherlands who follows Social Sciences at the VUB. Lisa also follows some subjects from Industrial sciences, “A choice out of pure interest” she said. “Last year I was also a member of the VUB Model United Nations but this year I’m fully focusing on my education and the student council. Yet I couldn’t resist at the beginning of November to go to a conference to guide a new delegation.”

    You are an international student who speaks Dutch. How do you experience this?

    Lisa: “I’m around a lot of international students and see that they do sometimes have problems because they don’t speak the main language. As an international student I speak Dutch but I don’t experience the life at university like Flemish students. In this situation I saw a chance to mean something. I can change more relevant aspects for international students since I see what information they don’t get. This year I will focus on the information flow. We have a big population of international students, approximately 25%, and they need good information. The VUB already does this very well but there’s a continuous flow of new information. So they need to decide what documents need to be translated to English.

    Do you have the feeling that you already accomplished some cases involving this?

    Lisa: “Not yet. At this moment we are primarily consulting how we can work together with the different VUB services. Priority is meeting with the Information Point Students because they are responsible for the student website. That will happen soon. I also want to change the rental contracts for the VUB buildings so that students no longer have to physically come to sign the rental contract. But that is outside of my coordinator ship, so I will consult this closely with Sofie, the coordinator student facilities."

    You are coordinator PR & Brussels, what does that mean?

    Lisa: "These are two coordinator ships in one because they are slightly smaller. Brussels is a priority, but also a long-term project. For this we work together with the We.KONEKT.brussels project and we also organize VUBrusselt. That is a party outside Etterbeek to show that Brussels also offers other entertainment options and falls in the Week of the Student. PR means that we communicate everything we do as a Student Council. There must be a certain structure in the communication and I will take care of that. "

    Why is that communication so important?

    Lisa: "Simple. We represent students and the more students give their opinion, the more relevant the Student Council will be. The reality is that we make decisions that affect all students. It is a mortal sin if students do not pay attention to this. Not only for large cases such as the possible changes in the academic calendar, but also for smaller things. That is why we try to involve our fellow students in the cases and we are open to input, but it has to come. Hence the great relevance of communication to the students."

    What is your personal experience of your engagement in the Student Council?

    Lisa: "It still amazes me how much influence we have. I thought we would work on a number of projects, but it is a lot of work as a Student Council to be in so many councils and committees to keep the university running. In addition all the projects we do!"

    And what do you find the most difficult?

    Lisa: "The most difficult thing is also the best thing about the Student Council. In your daily life you are usually surrounded by people who agree with you. Being a member of the Student Council is a great opportunity to discuss a problem together which you do not agree on. Every problem can be solved in different ways and opinions differ on the right approach. That can cause friction, but is also very good! It is important to see and understand other opinions. That’s a very refreshing and good learning experience."

    Do you have a message for the VUB student?

    Lisa: "I would like to emphasize again that participation is really worth it. That is not a privilege but a duty. We as a society have fought hard for democracy and participation. That does not mean that you can do whatever you want now, but that this must be maintained. So much control within society is not something you can assume normal. This duty also translates to participation at the university. This requires that every individual is informed. Not about every case, because even I as a member of the Student Council am not. But I try to be concerning all the big cases. If you really do not know where to start, you can always come to us. "