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Past parliamentarians share their StuPa realities

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

By Kaayin Kee

“The frustration with StuPa started mainly with people not coming,” said Catarina Velosa, former StuPa vice-president. “Members were frustrated because it was not possible to get stuff done.”

StuPa talks university budget. Photo by Putra Andhika

All but two members attended the Constitutional Student Parliament (StuPa) Meeting, but according to some previous StuPa members, these results will not last.

This first meeting for the new term happened on December 12 at the Kamp-Lintfort (KaLi) campus. Veteran Parliamentarians recalled the beginning of their own terms. One veteran, Anastasia Gilz from the Campus KaLi party says attendance to every meeting should be expected of the new members, even though it may not be easy.

“The first meetings were long and frustrating,” Gilz said. “We saw after, who had the patience to sit through those meetings.”

According to the previous election committee, last year, 39 students were voted into StuPa. However, according to previous StuPa president, Sophie Schnieders, by the end of the term 17 students resigned.

The remaining 22 members’ inconsistent attendance made it difficult to reach a quorum, which means the minimum number of present members required for the meeting to be valid was not met several times. Without a quorum, the StuPa, although able to discuss motions on the agenda, was not able to vote on any agenda items.

“The frustration with StuPa started mainly with people not coming,” said Catarina Velosa, former StuPa vice-president. “Members were frustrated because it was not possible to get stuff done.”

According to Nico Beranek, a student who conducted a survey on last term’s StuPa, most members were discouraged by repeated instances of no quorum. Active members who did not attend meetings rarely sent in absence notes, which are needed in order to establish if a quorum can be met before the meeting.

“I really wish to see committed people,” Gilz said. “The first quality of a StuPa person for me should be commitment. I keep my Wednesday afternoons free. If I get a job, I will quit StuPa,” said Gilz.

Gilz says that members should resign if they cannot commit to StuPa. Without a resignation, members are considered active members. The more active members there are, the larger the attendance required to reach a quorum. If StuPa members who do not attend meetings do not resign, they are considered active. The amount of active members establishes the amount of members needed at every meeting in order to vote on agenda items.

“It is not a failure if a StuPa member decides it’s too much work,” Gilz said. “It is not a failure to resign. We could have done more if people had shown up.”

Gilz says that reaching a quorum is harder when meetings are held in KaLi. This campus can take up to 2 hours to reach from Kleve. Many times, StuPa members would be in route to Kali and find out a meeting was cancelled.

Schneiders says she tried to hold training for StuPa. Only two people attended. She says that other efforts were also made, such as distributing Stupa Rules of Procedure in English. Members continued to make up their own rules, according to Schneiders.

“Instructing people at the front will not work and providing them with materials to be read does not work unless they are motivated to find out how things work,” Schnieders said.

Schnieders says she was disappointed about the difficulty in educating StuPa members about how StuPa functions. She also says that StuPa members were not motivated to learn and unwilling to ask questions.

StuPa members have a responsibility to inform themselves about the contents in order to vote on agenda items. This means reading over and understanding the motions before the vote. However, Iida-Maija Pirttiniemi, a former StuPa member says that this was not a regular occurrence.

“People literally don’t do anything before the meetings,” Pirttiniemi said. “If every StuPa member would take half an hour to understand what each motion means before the meeting, then we wouldn’t have to discuss things for two hours.”

In comparison to other student organizations, StuPa is not as active online. Emails are sent to the student body. According to Velosa students do not know how relevant the emails are to their university life.

“There is basically no public relations,” Velosa said. “People know AstA and the FSRs exists because they see activity online. People know about StuPa because they get an email every now and then.”

According to previous parliamentarians, StuPa was so much more than they thought. There is potential to make change only if members stay motivated.

“There are people that get excited at the beginning, but it fades away,” said Jamila Sias, a former StuPa member. “The motivation has to be very long term.”

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