Student Alliance Wageningen (S.A.W.) is the student union of Wageningen. As a union, S.A.W. stands up for the interests of students. We act upon relevant developments on the local and national scale, and take initiative to improve quality of student life. S.A.W. represent all students studying at a higher education institute in (and around) Wageningen. The goal is to optimise living and studying in Wageningen for students. S.A.W. has six key portfolios: Housing, Education, Internationalisation, Mobility, Sustainability and Social-Wellbeing. Next to our portfolios, we are actively participating at the moment in the national campaign against the student loan system #nietmijnschuld by leading the local campaign in Wageningen. Our perspective on our added value in Wageningen and plans for the coming years, are elaborated in our vision (2021-2026). Our core portfolio’s are summarized below.
In an ideal situation all students have a room in Wageningen. The room has a decent rental price, is of decent size, has good facilities and is confirmed with an agreement between tenant and landlord. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, there are still rogue landlords and unfair housing corporations. This may cause students to live in bad conditions such as: tiny or dirty rooms, illegal housing, in unsafe buildings or in villages around Wageningen.
Different trends are surfacing at Wageningen University (WU), which could bring the accessibility and quality of education in jeopardy. If for instance the university grows too much, this could be at the expense of the quality of education. On the other hand, if the growth is controlled by for example a numerus fix, this is at the expense of education accessibility. S.A.W. wants to find a balance between the different trends (e.g. digitalisation) and interests (e.g. quality).
Since Wageningen does not have a train station, the students that come to Wageningen with public transport are dependent on busses. Therefore, the accessibility of Wageningen is dependent on the connection of the busses. S.A.W. is a member of ROCOV Gelderland (Regionaal Overleg Consumentenorganisaties Openbaar Vervoer). Which is a provincial meeting for consumer organisations about public transport. In these meetings we advise the province and public transport companies about travel frequency and routes. These meetings have really paid off since thanks to us there are extra busses during peak hour from the Campus to station Ede-Wageningen and a night bus from Utrecht to Wageningen.
For many students in Wageningen, sustainability is a reoccurring topic. These students are connected to a wide variety of organisations. S.A.W. is in touch with these organisations through the Green Active Network (GAN) and facilitates events like the summer and winter regreening. Furthermore, S.A.W. chairs the DUCO, a gathering of sustainability committees, where ideas and best practices are exchanged. Additionally, S.A.W. is a ‘climate partner’ of the municipality, a role in which the union, as a critical partner, supports the city on its way to a more sustainable policies. More recently, S.A.W. has joined the climate coalition of Wageningen, hosting climate marches influencing local and national politics.
In Wageningen there are quite some associations related to internationalization. We keep contact with them and help out where necessary. We also get involved in important subjects that do not fit in with other associations’ activities. Last year, the United Wageningen Committee was brought to life. They are the main link between the mentioned associations, you can read more about them at the committee page. Apart from connecting people, S.A.W. keeps an eye out for different developments in the field of diversity and inclusion in Wageningen as well as in the rest of The Netherlands. If we see something that needs improvement, we take action.
The social wellbeing portfolio encompasses many aspects of student life. At S.A.W., stress management trainings are provided for members. These are given by trainers hired by the national student union. This year S.A.W. applied for a student network fund of the university and has launched the Science of Sleep platform, providing information and sleep deepening trainings. See the science of sleep page for more information. The last two years, the national student union has brought together a wellbeing action committee, monitoring the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on students.