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AStA's New Chairman: Meet Ludger Oelck

an Interview by Samantha Dixon

The first time I saw Ludger was through an Instagram Story posted by @study_at_hsrheinwaal in which he shared his day as AStA Chairman. While he was getting ready for uni, I remembered that there was an email a few days earlier, introducing him as the new Chairman after Charlotte Winkler had held the position the semester before. Sipping his last drop of coffee before heading over to the Kleve Campus, I couldn't help but wonder: Who the heck is Ludger Oelck?

Hey Ludger! Congratulations on your position as AStA Chairman. Tell us a bit about yourself, what you are studying and three things you absolutely enjoy doing.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to introduce myself a little bit and to talk about the position of AStA Chair. I am 24 years old and I was born in the beautiful city of Münster just around 2 hours car drive from Kleve. I started studying International Relations in 2019 and I am currently in my 7th semester.

The three things I enjoy the most is drinking a good coffee, going camping in the nature and watching an episode of a TV series during meals.

How did you end up being Chairman? Tell us more about the background story.

During my summer vacation in Spain, I was talking to a friend from university and he ended up telling me that the position of AStA chair was still vacant. I was supposed to start writing my Bachelor’s thesis this winter semester but I was hesitating as I had no clear plan for the time after I graduate.

Also, during my years at the HSRW, I had benefitted so much from services offered and events organized by AStA and I saw friends of mine investing and sacrificing their time for the student body that I felt an inner wish growing to also participate and give something back to the students of our university. And I thought to myself, how could I have a better impact than as the chairman of AStA? So I applied, got interviewed, and at the beginning of September StuPa elected me as the new chair.

Which challenges did you face so far?

I was just thrown in at the deep end right from the start. Due to various reasons, we are experiencing a severe housing shortage in the cities of our two campuses and many students were experiencing a very difficult start to the semester. Of course, we as AStA cannot just build more student dorms but we tried our best to raise awareness via the media to reach out to the citizens of Kleve and Kamp-Lintford.

I was not expecting my first big problem to be of such basic nature but it taught me a lot about how wide-ranging the issues that AStA deals with are. We also faced the challenge to inform the students about the energy crisis and the increasing costs. By raising awareness during the energy-saving week we hoped to prepare everyone for the upcoming winter. The latest challenge we are facing is the advertisement and planning of the upcoming StuPa elections.

What is your favorite part of being Chairman?

My favorite thing about being Chairman is definitely the teamwork within AStA. Our diverse team consists of so many different personalities and students coming from all over the world. It is so much fun and it motivates me every day to see everyone putting in so much effort, while simultaneously studying full-time. Of course, working together does not always go smoothly and clashes between opinions are guaranteed. But I have experienced a level of dedication, respect, and will to find compromise within the team which I personally find very impressive and value very highly.

In what way has the position as Chairman changed or influenced you as a person?

It has made me a more organized person. Having to deal with so many different issues at the same time requires a high degree of organizational skills and techniques. I had to learn a lot about scheduling my week properly to make time for everything. Especially when it comes to finding a balance between work, university, AStA, and free time. I have to admit that I am still struggling sometimes to put everything under one roof, but the more experience I gain, the better I am managing it.

What are things you did not expect to do or experience as a Chairman that you are doing now?

I knew that the job description of the AStA chair includes being the contact person for the media, but I was expecting to be giving an interview every once in a while for the local newspaper. But already in my second official week as AStA chair, I was invited to the WDR for a live interview on TV to talk about the housing shortage in Kleve and Kamp-Lintford. So, I found myself sitting in the make-up room of a TV studio about to give an interview on live TV. My heart was banging like crazy and I was super nervous, but in the end, everything went well and it was a really cool experience.

Which one big advise would you give students interested in joining AStA in general?

My biggest advice to all students interested, just do it! Get involved. Talk to any of us if you want to get engaged, if you have ideas or if you want to change something. Sadly, out of the seven semesters that I study here, four were online, due to the pandemic and one was my ERASMUS exchange in Sweden. So, I had only limited chances to feel what an active campus life really means.

But now, being in the position of AStA chair at HSRW and having the opportunity to get involved in so many different processes of our university, I am so happy that I was able to take this opportunity at the end of my studies. Many of us will only experience studying at a university during these years right now. It is one of the most exciting times of our lives and getting engaged and involved is going to reward you so much. You will meet incredible people, understand how a university works, and you will be able to change your own university for the better.

Which three advises would you give students interested in the position of Chairman/Chairwoman?

  1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You will do many of them and that is absolutely okay. But learn from them and be critical of your own decisions and actions.

  2. Be prepared to work overtime but keep your weekends for yourself.

  3. Don’t forget to have fun! Yes, it is serious work, but you can only be up for the challenge if you are enjoying what you are doing.

What are your next big study plans for the upcoming semester?

I would like to write my Bachelor’s thesis, continue learning Chinese, and finally graduate.

Where do you see yourself after you graduate?

That is probably the most difficult question out of all of the above. The honest answer is, I do not really know. I would like to do a master’s program but I am unsure which one is the right for me. I could also imagine gaining some work experience via internships, but equally, I do not know where to apply. But I am sure that if you ask me in a couple of months again, I will be able to answer this question a little bit more substantially.

Last but not least: tell us two things about you that people usually don’t know.

  1. I once slept in a tent at -7°C during my exchange in Sweden just because my best friend and I wanted to see if we could make it. It was freezing but we did it.

  2. One of my biggest dreams is to dive with a Great White Shark, which is my favorite animal.

It's 5:30pm. The Kleve Campus is dark, the last students are heading home, escaping the early winter evening to warmer places. The only lights illuminating the eerie campus come from the AStA house. It's busy both outside and inside - and in the midst of it all I glimpse a smiling face. "I'm Ludger, or you can call me Luddy."

He looks different, not at all how I imagined a Chairman to be. Dressed in a wide hoodie, he leans back in his office chair, excited for the interview, semi-ready for the photos. From talking to his passion for Formula 1 to saying that his cat was sitting on his lap before, probably scratching him somewhere, I am glad to know that this guy with his hoodie and big smile, is exactly who we students need as AStA's new Chairman.

Learn more about AStA, or follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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