’Here you can build yourself up to be the best version of yourself’

Xander Bon (22) has put his master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management on hold for a board year as president of the Student Union.

Stepping out of the lecture hall and into a board position. What is that like?

’It’s a world of difference. One moment you’re a student, the next, you’re at the helm of an organisation. But it also makes for quite a challenge. I’d read up on it thoroughly of course, but now that my first weeks are behind me, it’s even more than I expected. It’s truly special that, as a UT student, you’re given the opportunity and trust to take on such a task. As a board member, you have a lot of responsibility; something you’d probably only get after several years of work experience when you start your career.’

How do you fulfil your role as president?

’The SU board members have very different portfolios, each with their own responsibilities. I serve as a facilitator within our team. We’ve only just started, but we’re already becoming a very close team. We really work together well and I think I play a role in that. I’m good at overseeing the big picture, keeping an overview and not drowning in things that aren’t primary goals.’

What is your main focus as Student Union?

’Our priority lies in encouraging personal development outside of studies. There should be many different ways you can do that, and how you can use your student days for that. When I started my programme, I had a completely different picture of what my student life would be like. But along the way, there were many stimuli and opportunities that attracted me. In my opinion, this is a true core value that we as the UT should propagate even more and that sets us apart. Here you can build yourself up to be the best version of yourself. But the path that leads there is one you determine yourself, it’s not set out for you.’

Can you use other places as a mirror for the way you do things here?

’There’s nowhere else in the Netherlands where students have so much policy responsibility. Our ambition is to propagate this further too. Students themselves are the best judge of their own needs, both for their extra-curricular personal development and for sports and culture. We make connections with organisations within the Netherlands that have the same goals but may not operate in the same way, as well as with similar organisations in England and Scandinavia, for example, to exchange knowledge about which approach works and which doesn’t, and what challenges they run into.’

How do you view the student culture in Enschede?

’Above all, it’s very convivial. Of course, the UT is not that large, which helps. It allows us to really connect with each other and creates a sense of familiarity. Fortunately, we hardly have to worry about the extreme incidents that sometimes appear in the media elsewhere. A great example is our responsible alcohol consumption covenant that we have made with the associations. Because of this, there is a lot of discussion and an open dialogue about what is happening, what is desirable and what is necessary.’

This article was published in the December edition of Campus magazine, our magazine for alumni and UT relations. You can read the full version of the magazine here.

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