An interview with our FSW’s representative
Today we feature Christiaan Meinsma, the new representative of FSW/FSS in the University Council! With 244 votes he came out on top and acquired the very first spot as a FSW/FSS representative. Many of you know him as a Business Administration and Pyschology student, active Cedo member or SSR member. Nevertheless, now it is your chance to have a sneak peak in the election and learn about his road to the victory! So read this interview if you want to know more about Christiaan’s motivation to participate, the campaign strategy and personality.
1. What makes you unique as a candidate?
Christiaan Meinsma: I think that I have always been a person that is interested in many different aspects and never truly active in just one organisation or faculty. For example, I’m a student of the Faculty of Social Sciences and the RSM (my heart lies mainly at the Faculty of Social Sciences). This all results in that I have an idea of the bigger pictures and do not focus on only one aspect.
2. Why did you join the election? (passion, CV building, admiration or all of them?) (Could you elaborate your choice?)
Christiaan Meinsma: Probably all of them, but mainly passion. First, I have always had something with education and I think it is probably the most important part of human development. Last year I gave a course to first years students of Business Administration, but I found out that I’m more interested in the organisation part of education. Second, I have always been interested in politics, but haven’t done anything with it, so the University Council is a good opportunity to combine education with some internal politics.
3. 244 votes! Nice results, but what did you expect?
Christiaan Meinsma: Hahahh, thanks! I didn’t really know, I hoped around 200. I didn’t have any polls, so I didn’t know how effective my campaign was during the election period. I found out that not many people of this faculty know about the student representation bodies of the faculty and university so it was a challenge to get people activated to vote.
4. How are you going to realise your promises?
Christiaan Meinsma: As I said before, I have worked with many people of different faculties and organisations, so to some extend I know how they work. I hope to convince them with the passion for my ideas. It probably helps that I already know a few people who I’m going to work with.
University Council is a good opportunity to combine education with some internal politics.
STRATEGY AND MARKETING
5. Did you have a strategy?
Christiaan Meinsma: Yes, actually I had, the main issue was to get people to know the University Council and my ideas for the University and the second issue was to get them activated to vote. So I tried to create the knowledge about my ideas and the University Council by Facebook posts and lecture talks (small fact, if you are a candidate you can make for 120 euro campaign declarations, so I used that for Facebook sponsoring). Second to get people active, I tried to get many people as close as possible by talking to them in person and in workgroups. Here my awesome friends at Cedo really helped, because a lot asked many of their friends to vote.
6. What was your target group?
Christiaan Meinsma: My target group were all students of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The runner up of the election is a student of EUC (which is apparently part of our faculty during the elections), so she targeted mainly those students.
7. Do you think that your experiences in Cedo, especially as an extern, helped you to win?
Christiaan Meinsma: Yes definitely, I already had some experiences with committees before Cedo, but especially as extern you get in to contact with many people and learn how they work.
8. Do you think that the support of the board helped you with the campaign?
Christiaan Meinsma: Cedo Nulli is the Study Association for all students of the Faculty of Social Sciences, so it wouldn’t have been right if the board supported only me. They supported students to vote in general. Wouter Sterrenburg (Marketing Officer of Cedo Nulli) was my campaign manager and he did an awesome job!! And of course I had support of Renske Doornbos (Education Officer of Cedo Nulli), but they did it as friends and not as board members.
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’’
PERSONALITY AND LIFE
9. You have quite a reputation in general, especially as the ‘connection man’. Do you think that a certain natural skill set makes it easier for you to win or present yourself?
Christiaan Meinsma: That is always a difficult question, you never know if the main reason that people voted is because they are genuine behind your ideas or voted because they know you. I think both are needed, but yes it probably comes in handy.
10. In the election you have to be aware of how you come across to the voters, as you want to look charismatic and sincere. What aspects of yourself did you change or did you make more subtle to achieve this?
Christiaan Meinsma: I think that when I came to the Faculty of Social Sciences for the first time, I wasn’t perceived as always that sincere. Not that I wasn’t sincere but still, so I tried to stay honest about my motivation and came up with ideas that are not simple ideas to get votes but also sincere ideas that I think that would be good for the University and the student. For example, my idea of a complete ban of flyers on campus even for student organisations, because it is such a waste and there are more innovative ideas to promote. I know that I lost some votes on that idea.
11. From certain sources, I heard that you failed to get into the board last year. How did you recover from such a disappointment and how did this affect your mindset in the election?
Christiaan Meinsma: In hindsight, it was for the best. I applied for chairmen and I wasn’t the best person for that position, because my ideas for that position were too much that of a Business Administration student and too less of a Psychology student. I would have wanted to change Cedo too fast. But I think in the University Council I can be a better support for Cedo and the Faculty of Social Sciences, because the University can use some radical change and maybe could use more of an business mind-set to negotiate with the representatives of the other faculty (especially the RSM and the ESE).
12. Do you have some advice or a message for the future candidates?
Yes, if you have a passion for education and want to change it just go for it. The quote that is on the background of my laptop is ‘’A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’’. It sounds cheesy but even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted or you lose the election, you get a hell of a learning experience.
“If you have a passion for education and want to change it just go for it , “if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted, you get a hell of a learning experience.”
By Melissa de Gast