Student members feel treated like children in cmr

Published: October 4, 2022 • Reading time: 4 minutes and 50 seconds • News

A former student member of the Central Participation Council (cmr) strongly criticizes how the council treats student members. Students would be contacted illegally and would be disadvantaged in terms of employment. Four other students who have sat on the council for the past six months share his criticism of the unequal treatment.

‘Student members are treated as ‘little students who don’t prepare’ instead of fellow council members’, says the former student member, who wishes to remain anonymous and with his criticism of Profiles stepped. ‘If a student was talking on his phone during a meeting, he was prosecuted as a student who was not paying attention. Sometimes it was also said “students don’t read their mail anyway”. It doesn’t feel collegial at all, you could say it in another way’.

Being late

Another student member confirms this; she has also experienced unequal treatment. In an email to Profiles she writes about an incident where a student was late for the meeting. “A staff member who treated the students like children and accused us of being lazy embarrassed a student with a heated accusation of being late, while the staff member who was late gave the staff the benefit of the doubt.” The accusations flew back and forth, says the student member. ‘And that in what should be a professional setting. And the chairman did not intervene’.

A third student member says that the staff paints a stereotypical picture of the students and finds nuances: “I also noticed that a single student was poorly prepared, was on his phone and didn’t hear anything in and outside of meetings. But it is wrong if the staff thinks that most student members are like that’.

Complaints about working conditions

The aforementioned former student member who went to Profiles stepped was one of the ten student members of cmr before the summer. He was a social work student but dropped out of school. ‘If I hadn’t stopped my studies, I also think I would have stopped at cmr. Or I would have stayed, precisely to do something about the problems at the cmr, says the student. He raised his complaints with CMR’s management, but in his experience this was to no avail. “They couldn’t disprove it and said: ‘We’ll look into it,'” says the student.

He also has complaints about the ‘working conditions’ of student members. For employees, the cmr work falls within their employment contract, students receive a compensation of 125 euros per week. Therefore, they are expected to attend and prepare meetings on Mondays; there are a total of 12 hours, one and a half working days, per week.

Employees are protected by the collective agreement, we are not.

The student member: ‘But if you call in sick, you don’t get anything, even if you have already prepared the meeting. Employees are protected by the collective agreement, we are not. Once I was sick on Monday, but had I prepared, I didn’t get any money’. He believes that this is at the expense of the involvement of the students: ‘I think there are students in cmr to include the student perspective in politics. It is also a responsibility of HR. How can I give 100 percent if I don’t get paid when I’m sick, don’t I also have to pay my rent?’

The aforementioned ‘third student member’ has the same complaint. ‘I myself have worked for cmr quite a few times, but because it was during the holidays (students receive no compensation in July and August, ed.) I did not receive any compensation for it. It’s quite strange that we are expected to work at times when attendance fees are not paid.’

It takes three quarters of a year for induction

Last January it started for the student who went to Profiles didn’t get into cmr well. In the announcement ahead of the fall 2021 candidacy, it was not made clear that the CMR meetings are during daytime hours on Monday, a day when he worked. ‘I couldn’t cancel it all at once. I was then told that I should have arranged this earlier.’

In January, training was held for the new cmr members on, among other things, team building. There is room for improvement, says the student Profiles stepped. ‘It was a bit about how to do your job as a cmr member, for example about how to write advice. I would argue for x number of Mondays in preparation.’

As a student, you always lag behind the staff in the council in terms of knowledge and experience, especially because the students are elected for one year, the staff have a term of two years. “While the employees also indicate that you need three quarters of a year to get used to it. Nothing will be done about it’.

The buddy system does not work

The CMR has a buddy system, where an employee must help a student. The student who Profiles knocked on the door: ‘I knew who my mate was, but she didn’t help me and didn’t know she should. I was able to ask questions of another member of staff on a committee of the CMr that I was on.’

The ‘third student member’ confirms that the buddy system does not work. ‘I didn’t know who it was or how we were going to do it. Also, the arrangement with the school that makes it possible for you to get free on meeting days came too late for me last spring. Because of this I missed some of my classes last year. Also this year I will miss classes or have to make up. But within cmr we are now working hard on all these matters.’

Add an additional student member to the daily board

In order to achieve more equality in the cmr, students who Profiles applied for an additional student member of the executive board for cmr. ‘Now there are two employees and one student; two students are allowed according to the rules, and this is not at the expense of the number of employees. I myself have not raised that before, but after a few months of reflection I now think so’.

A student council that is completely separate from the staff section also seems like a good idea to the first student member. ‘I see advantages in it. That you, as a student, have more control yourself. Now, for example, it is also the case that if a project group is formed on behalf of the council, an employee is always the project manager, either literally or in practice. The students are always the assistants.’

Research in two separate councils

In June last year, the council announced at an external meeting that serious research must be done into the establishment of two councils: A student council and a staff council. The future of (the democratic content of) employee participation was on the agenda at that meeting.

CMR’s management does not want to respond substantively to the criticism ‘which reaches us indirectly and for which we do not know the background’. However, the management would like to talk to those who go to Profiles has entered.

Text: Jos van Nierop
Illustration: Demian Janssen

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