Small associations out of luck
The number of study associations at the RUG is on the rise, even though the amount of funding available for committee grants is not increasing. The university board decided that intervening was necessary, and the result is an increase of the threshold for membership from 150 members to 200. Associations with fewer members will fall by the wayside.
Lijst Calimero feels that is unfair. If the threshold had remained where it was, then the members of the boards of the associations for economics and business, math and natural sciences, law and the arts would have to give back a bit. Now that the membership limit is set to be raised, ‘associations in law and the arts will effectively fall away.’
But according to rector magnificus Elmer Sterken, it is justifiable for the smaller groups to take a hit. ‘It cannot be that the student population remains stagnant, yet the number of study associations continues to grow and that the financing for that will have to grow along with it’, he said in the University Council.
‘We cannot place a premium on separatism – we should encourage togetherness. That is an argument for supporting the bigger associations rather than the smaller ones’, Sterken says.
Student faction SOG sees the plan as placing a band aid on a gaping wound. The rule change will result in 12,000 euros being saved. ‘That is not very much in a total budget of nearly 300,000 euros. Will there be any additional cut backs?’, the party wants to know.
CUOS chairperson Matthijs Katz, who established the threshold along with his fellow board members, admits that the limit is far from ideal. ‘This is not an ideal solution, but it is a means to reduce the pressure being placed on the available funding. As far as we are concerned, this is a temporary solution, and we will seek to ensure that our successors will provide a more workable model.’
Next year, how the funds for committee grants are divided will be revisited. Whether that will mean a more positive outcome for the smaller associations remains to be seen. ‘I cannot predict that. I do not know what our successors will do’, Katz says.