Without Jeannetta we are nowhere
Writing a blog is one of the USR tasks that isn’t a priority to me. All new tasks always take priority over this one, oops! For this reason, this deadline was not on my mind. During our meeting, Alyssa reminds me of the upcoming deadline. "Deadline?" I ask. Don't get me wrong, I'm always on time with my deadlines. They are sometimes last-minute, but never late. "Alyssa what deadline do you mean?", "Your Ad Valvas blog!" she shouts. A silence falls. I look at our official secretary, "Jean" I say (I always abbreviate her name, we all do). "Don't you have something you'd like to blog about? Get it off your chest!” I shout. She smiles, "When is it due?" she asks Alyssa. I start to hope, can I escape it this time? Unfortunately, not.
Speaking of 'Jean', our Jeannetta. Besides her function as official secretary of the USR, she is so much more: our saviour, our helper, our library, pillar of support, Wailing Wall, caring 'mother', our eyes, hands, and feet. I could dedicate two more pages to what she means to the USR but also to me personally. In my first USR year (two years ago) as a rookie, I asked Jean everything. How to do this Jean? How do you draft a policy paper Jean? Who should I contact for this dossier Jean? Always with a lot of patience Jeannetta explained everything to me, but also to the other council members. The 11 councillors themselves decide on the content and direction of a dossier. Jean does not help to determine the course of a dossier, unless we specifically ask her to do so. Sometimes she has a difficult look on her face, her expression betrays that she is thinking about something. "Jean, what do you think about this?" we ask. "Well guys, have you thought about this and this?", or "this was discussed 3 years ago". She then provides essential important details that often make us choose a different course in the end. Sometimes she raises her finger, then we know what time it is: an important detail, an important insight, is coming.
If Jean were not there, continuity would be lost altogether
Continuity, continuity, continuity. This is so important, especially for the USR. This year I noticed that certain agreements or promises made two years ago - prior to consent - are sometimes not kept. Promises that were made in my first term at the time are not so well remembered in the organisation, so they are not kept. For the USR, with all its 'rookies' who start every year in September, it can sometimes be extremely difficult. You have to stand up for the students' interests, but on the other hand, you are in a learning phase, a difficult and demanding one. If Jean were not there, continuity would be lost altogether. Whose responsibility is it actually to safeguard the agreements that have been made, to extend policies that have expired? The organisation, I think. The organisation must safeguard the agreements that have been made. However, I note that this year we as USR also often had to raise the issue of whether things should be done differently, whether a different working method should be used, or whether an agreement made should be pulled out of the closet again to show that this really was what had been promised. We were able to do this well this year because we had a council with four former USR members and three members with FSR experience. This continuity has a noticeable positive influence on (the functioning of) the council. That is why I will continue for another (third) year as USR member.
That is why I will continue for another (third) year as USR member
It is not unwillingness or bad intentions on the part of the organisation, I am sure of that. After all, I can see how hard they are working for students. It's just a matter of choosing where your priority lies, which can be annoying for us as a participation body when we don't have the same priorities, but that's how it is. It sometimes gets buried under the other important things on their plate, just like this blog was buried under all the other tasks I deemed more important. In the end, with hard work, we'll get there too. Everything will turn out fine. It always does.