Anne-Kee Doing, the new Chair of the Student Council, could sit back and watch while Rob Mudde, Vice Chair of the Executive Board fulfilled the role of chairperson for the first meeting. He did not dwell on the change of language. “There may be subjects which you do not feel comfortable discussing in English. We do not want to be too rigid. If you feel hampered, switch to Dutch.” When the agenda is set, Mudde puts this into practice. “What is the English word for ‘vaststellen’ again?” he asks, laughing. “Approve” is heard straightaway from the other side of the table. Problem solved.
What did Anne-Kee Doing think of the first meeting? “We’re still feeling our way,” she says. “Everyone has to get used to it, but I thought it went well for a first time. Nobody had too much difficulty with English. This may be an issue in the future if, for example, there is an external guest who is less used to speaking English. And it’s good that we have the freedom to switch to Dutch if necessary.”
Some terms are hard to translate into English. What do you do in these cases?
“True. We had to really think about some terms while doing the preparation. For example, what is a good translation of ‘verschoolsing’ (scholarisation)? You then have to describe it as there may not be a single good word for it. We will never be completely English language because the law decrees that the ultimate decisions have to be written in Dutch.”
This year is a trial period. What does this entail?
“We will evaluate how things go throughout the year. We will also discuss this meeting. We are calling it a pilot to test whether meeting in English works. If there is an international student in the Student Council again next year, I assume that, whatever happens, they will continue to meet in English.”
What was Lijst Bèta council member Katharina Ertman’s impression of the first meeting? She is American and the only international student on the Student Council.
How did it go?
“I thought it went well! It’s out of many people’s comfort zone to speak English so I appreciate that everyone took the trouble to do it. I don’t want the meetings to revolve around me, that’s not the intention at all. But I am happy that I can understand everything.”
Could you understand everything?
“Yes, I could. I could follow everything so it wasn’t a problem at all.”
And what about if people switched to Dutch?
“That’s fine. I understand that some subjects are tricky to have the right words at the ready. They should then just switch to Dutch, as long as I understand what was said in the end. Someone can explain what was said later.”