Participational bodies approve critiqued Strategic Plan

04 Jul 2019 ,

On Monday, the participational bodies approved the Strategy, the vision document previously known as the Strategic Plan. Members of the Joint Assembly again expressed strong criticisms, but decided to approve the document.

After a process of more than six months, the Executive Board was given the green light for its new vision document yesterday. After heated discussion with Executive Board President Daniël Wigboldus, a significant majority of members of the Joint Assembly decided to approve the document. One member of the Works Council, Nick Mulder, refrained from voting and the four-member student group AKKUraatd submitted a blank vote.

‘Why is it so difficult to say that work pressure is a priority?’

From the outset, Wigboldus emphasised that the Executive Board would take the time necessary for the document. In October of last year, he said that everyone should be given the opportunity to provide input. In order to do this, the university organised five ‘sessions’ at which participants could discuss the Strategic Plan and contribute ideas.

The Strategic Plan was initially met with much scepticism by the participational bodies, which have the right of consent regarding the document. In May, the general assessment was that the document was ‘not concrete enough’, a sentiment that was echoed during the meeting with the Executive Board. According to the participational bodies, the document reads like a list of irrefutable values. The term ‘advertising brochure’ was used two weeks ago during the preparatory meeting, at which the Executive Board was not present.

Work pressure

Due to criticisms from the participational bodies, the Strategic Plan was converted into the Strategy, a name meant to imply that it contained less concrete measures. In Wigboldus’ opinion, it is important that the strategy works for several years. Measures that are too concrete would stand in the way of that.

Nevertheless, the document still faced stiff criticism yesterday. The Executive Board had to satisfy the demands of the participational bodies on the spot. The primary issue: why was the problem of work pressure among staff not specified as a priority? ‘Why is it so difficult to just say that?’ wondered Lau Schulpen, Head of FNV. ‘It’s not really that hard, is it?’

‘Nothing was done with all our questions and recommendations’

Works Council President Bernadette Smelik suggested that a sentence be added to the passage on the close-knit academic community that the university aims to be, stating that work pressure and student welfare would be areas requiring attention for which the Executive Board would actively implement policy. The Executive Board immediately accepted that proposal.

In spite of his previous criticism, Lau Schulpen ultimately decided to approve the plan. ‘Our primary demand was met,’ he explained by telephone. ‘The Executive Board has acknowledged the importance of work pressure and indicated that they aim to do something about it. The plan may still be of use in the future, too,’ said Schulpen. ‘It is an excellent resource to keep ourselves and the Executive Board on our toes. We now have a yardstick against which to measure future policy.’

Student welfare

According to Sander van der Goes, his student group AKKUraatd found itself in a predicament. ‘We appreciate the goals contained in the strategy: accessibility, sustainability, and privacy, but we don’t think that the Strategy is concrete enough.’ Van der Goes felt that the document failed to specify how the goals would be achieved and, more importantly, his group submitted many questions and recommendations ‘which were not always used’. AKKUraatd decided to submit a blank vote.

However, student group asap did approve the Strategy. ‘We agree with the text in general, especially now that student welfare has been definitively specified,’ said group chair Xander van Ulsen. In his opinion, the fact that the strategy remained abstract on some topics is a good thing. ‘It creates more policy leeway. Not only for the Executive Board, but also for the participational bodies and the faculties. With a strategy that is too concrete, you run the risk of not being able to work with it later on.’

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