Finally: English in the University Council

After years of fighting for it, the spoken language in the University Council is slowly shifting to English. It makes international student representative Taku Mutezo’s job much easier.

Taku Mutezo is optimistic about the changes that she has seen in the University Council so far this academic year. As the international student representative for SOG, Mutezo was pleased to see that about three-fourths of the documents in the first Council meeting last week were provided in English.

Several of her fellow student representatives are making a conscious effort to help, too: along with Mutezo, two of the other SOG members have committed to consistently speaking English in the meetings. ‘If someone asks a question in English, they will get an answer back in English’, Mutezo says.

One downside

Be that as it may, some of the council members still tend to discuss the English-language documents in Dutch. And although about a quarter of the documents continue to only be available in Dutch, Mutezo can also rely on a translator in the room like her international representative predecessors.

Now that more English is finally being spoken in the meetings, one possible downside has emerged. ‘Even though everyone can speak English, we have to make sure now that everyone really understands what is being discussed’, Mutezo says. But in general, she is heartened by the council’s stronger commitment to making the meetings at least bilingual: ‘It’s so easy to feel like you can’t really be involved if there is a language barrier.’