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Next academic year Charlotte, Sander and Yannis will participate in the Student Council in name of ‘Studententroef’, literally translated as ‘Student Trump Card’. In 2014 most higher education institutions in Belgium had students protesting against the raised tuition fees, using this name. Although they never fully disappeared, they are now stepping out of the shadow again. Charlotte and Sander explain what they stand for.


Charlotte, Sander en Yannis zetelen komend academiejaar in de studentenraad onder de naam ‘studententroef’. In 2014 had bijna iedere hogere onderwijsinstelling een groep studenten die onder die naam protesteerden tegen de verhoging van het inschrijvingsgeld. Echt weg zijn ze nooit geweest, maar vanaf dit jaar zijn ze op de VUB terug duidelijker aanwezig. Charlotte en Sander lichten toe wie ze zijn en waar ze voor staan.

Studententroef, didn’t that die a long time ago?!

Sander: No! We might have stepped out of the spotlight, but we always managed to attract new members and we’ve never stopped striving for a better university. This year we decided to apply for the Student Council using the name Studententroef. We wanted to form a party, like they do in politics. Hopefully our position in the Student Council will give us the opportunity to make a difference in the policy making of the VUB.


“Thinking must never submit itself, not even to savings”

Charlotte: Our point of view in one word? Progressive! We have three main issues we want to address: democracy, quality and participation.

Sander: A more democratic university is a big issue for us. The tuition fees are too high and still cause problems for a lot of (potential) students. Financial situations should not influence your chances of getting a higher education. Charlotte: We know it is possible, just take a look at Scandinavia. We would love to see the VUB take the lead in making higher education more accessible for everyone.


Sander: Our second issue is quality education. We want the university to keep striving for quality education and better programmes. Financial austerity is the real danger in this case.

Charlotte: The Faculty of Arts and Philosophy in particular is subjected to this. For example: each term there are less elective courses to choose from. The quality of programmes should not depend on the amount of money they bring to the university.


Sander: Finally, we have chosen participation as our third issue. The VUB already does a pretty good job in including students, but there is always room for improvement. We want to improve the mutual interaction between university and students and vice versa. The Student Council is ideal to facilitate this.


Charlotte: We have been elected by the students, but that doesn’t mean that they agree with everything we say. We want to keep in touch with the student community and advocate what they think is important.


Sander: But participation is more than communication. We want a university that includes students in important decisions and that takes a stance, together with students, when it is needed. For example, when the government wants to push further savings on education.




Sander: Ateach-in is a short, very practical course on one specific topic. We would like to organize teach-ins when the Student Council needs to decide on a complicated case. This way we can show students what we are doing, teach them (and ourselves) what it is about and hopefully make an informed decision. This will also give us the opportunity to reach out to fellow students and get to know their opinions.

Charlotte: we would like to ‘get something going’. Students seem to think the decisions of the Student Council doesn’t effect, but we want to show them it does. That we work on real problems and that we can actually make a difference.

Sander: We might not reach all students, but each student we can get interested and invested in our cause is worth the effort.



University and Student Council

Charlotte: I think the Student Council - and the university for that matter - should not be afraid to take a stance.


Sander: This year the Student Council did a great job with taking a stance in the case on public transportation. We should push ourselves to do this more often. We can afford to be a bit bolder!


Charlotte: If students aren’t bold, who will be?