There he was, on a stage in the Onderzeebootloods with a microphone in his hand. Two cameras in front of him and a few thousand students and staff watching the start of the new academic year online. Kevin Leentfaar never thought that he would be co-hosting this event when he was elected Chairman of the Central Representative Board one year ago.
"I was not sure if I should co-host this big event because I am not used to speaking in front of large groups of people," he says. "But in the end I did it anyway. All in all, it went quite well." That is typical of Kevin's attitude to life: just do it and you'll find out whether you can or not. Whether it's fun or not. But that it is a learning experience is a fact.
That is why he advises students to run for the Central Representative Board or an institute's representative board. As a member or as chairman. Not only because you will be involved in making decisions about important changes within the school, but especially because it shapes you as a person. "I have developed political sensitivity over the past year. In other words, I have learned to express things in a slightly more political way than I would have solely as a student. I have also learned to keep my mouth shut when I need to listen carefully instead of talk. I am now better able to put myself in someone else's shoes. Being a student and part of the Central Representative Board has allowed me to grow as a person."
He actually intended to put himself forward for election as chairman of the student delegation of the board. But then it was suggested to Kevin that it might be a good idea to run for chairman of the Central Representative Board. It doesn't often happen that a student is appointed to that position, most of the time it is an employee. "I said to myself: you're just going to do it, because you learn by trial and error. It won't always go well, but that's why I am a student."
As a result of the pandemic, Kevin's new position was not quite what he had expected. Covid-19 swallowed up a lot of time, simply because many decisions had to be made about the consequences of the virus for the school. "In addition, I would have liked to visit many more locations to talk to people about what is going on at the school, but unfortunately, that was not possible as much as I had hoped. Fortunately, I was able to ensure that the processes within the Central Representative Board were better organised, allowing us to work more efficiently."
The Central Representative Board approves decisions of the Executive Board, including those concerning the face mask requirement that has been introduced. How does that work? Kevin: "It was an urgent question from the Executive Board. All members of the Central Representative Board were given time to read the document carefully so that we could vote on it a few days later. Normally the procedure is different, for example, when the school's budget has to be approved. That takes about six weeks. That sort of issue is quite exciting because we really have an influence on the school's policies."
One would think that it goes without saying that Kevin will be running again in the next election.
"I am not sure. I have already obtained all my credits for my Industrial Engineering & Management study programme, and all I have to do still is graduate. That means that I could only be chairman for six months and then a new chairman would have to be elected, because I should have completed my studies by then."
Kevin postponed his graduation because he was too busy with his work as Chairman of the Central Representative Board. "It has turned into a 'board' year, but I had already factored that in a bit. It really is a lot of work. Not every student is looking for that, I understand. But some students are. In any case, I can recommend it to everyone. As I said before: you learn a lot and you grow as a person. Just do it!"
Put yourself forward as candidate
Would you like to influence the policy of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences? Then put yourself forward as a candidate for one of the participation councils. Check your e-mail for more information; you will receive a message from the polling station containing everything you need to know about the elections that will be held from 24 through 26 November.