Why did I decide to participate in the elections at the University of Maastricht? I was born in a country of Eastern Europe, lived there all my life, finished school, and graduated from university there, where, when we talked about the president, we always joked that representatives of the Investigative Committee had already ‘come after’ us. We ironically implied that somebody was listening to us or reading our correspondence and would put us in prison for conversations about our government. Back then, it seemed like a joke, but now I understand that there is something deep and sad in this.
There was always this feeling that you better do not stick your neck out, do not get in the way, do not argue. I cannot say it was terrible. Maybe it is just because I am so fearful. And, obviously, not so many people wanted to be involved in politics. Understanding that it would be hard to change something is very disabling, even if you are ready to get a truncheon on your head or to be tortured in a prison cell (although I do not know how you can be ready for such a thing).
When I moved to the Netherlands to study, the first month I was just glad that I could feel completely at ease. Here I was finally able to calmly volunteer in an area unspeakable in my country (almost like Volunteering with Voldemort, but in fact, it is the field of human rights), go to rallies and not be afraid.
I really liked the idea of student self-organization. I thought it would be a good plan to be elected to the University Council, because when I applied to Maastricht University, I noticed that the difference in tuition fees for EU students and international students is enormous. It was a sore point for me. I was unable to get a scholarship because my referee was detained on a politically motivated case and failed to send a letter of recommendation on time. I was not even able to proceed on a level of assessment of my skills, education and experience. It was written in the rejection letter: ‘Your recommender did not provide a letter of recommendation on time’, even though I sent a letter about the whole situation. For me it was terrible, a sense of injustice overwhelmed me.
I decided that participating in the elections would be wonderful because I could promote the point of more financial aid opportunities and scholarships for international students. I was lucky enough to have parents who were able to help me financially. What about other international students? Who will help them? Who will help those who find themselves in similar situations to me, but without financial help from relatives?
Unfortunately, after I understood that I want to participate in the elections, I found out that due to the fact that I will (hopefully) graduate in August of this year, I will not be able to become a 'full-time' candidate. I can only support the party with the agenda which is close to my priorities. That is, I become a kind of supporter, but not a full-fledged potential member of the council. Regardless, I decided it was worth it and tried to promote my idea among potential candidates who will take a seat on the university council.
I think you can sit for a long time and mumble about the fact that there are few scholarships, that everything is dishonest and unfair, or you can try to change at least something.