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Fenna on EUniWell: ‘Students can be involved in lots of different ways!’

EUniWell, the alliance of seven European universities committed to developing teaching and research relating to well-being, is celebrating its first anniversary. Law student Fenna van Haeften has been involved as a student representative right from the start. This October she went to Florence, where she and other members of the Student Board looked back at the first year and made plans for 2022.

What is EUniWell exactly and what is your role in the organisation?

‘EUniWell is an alliance of seven European universities that arose from the “European University Initiative”. Alongside drawing attention to well-being and conducting research into it, it provides grants for students and staff from the universities. If they have a good idea or initiative, they can submit a proposal for a Seed Fund. This can be for anything, research or an event for example, as long as it relates to well-being.

‘I’ve been involved in EUniWell since 2020. I’m one of the two Leiden representatives on the Student Board. Each university has two representatives, so there are 14 student representatives in total. The Student Board is in close contact with the boards of all the EUniWell universities and advises on issues that they face. This could relate to grants or events, for instance. In future we will also be involved in decisions on grants. And we obviously also look at how we can involve students in the project.’

How did you get involved in EUniWell?

‘I’m studying law and before that did a bachelor’s in International Law, so with my background was already interested in internationalisation and European collaboration. I’m also interested in well-being because it’s really topical and is different for every student. In February 2020, I was lucky enough to go to Birmingham for the first Student Board meeting at a European level. That’s where the structure of this body was decided on. I found it really interesting to meet people from other countries and to talk about participation and the EUniWell vision. That’s why I’ve carried on working for EUniWell.’

Fenna in Florence

How do you look back on the first year of EUniWell?

‘It’s all gone really well, but coronavirus meant we couldn’t do everything in the project as we’d planned. We’ve taken steps to make initiatives more concrete. FestiWell has been an important event. That was one of the big events, to celebrate EUniWell’s first anniversary. It’s a way to show what EUniWell stands for, and we’re beginning to make an impact. In the coming year there are also great events and activities planned for students and staff.’

What can students expect of EUniWell and how can they join in?

‘There will be more events in the coming year, like the Mental Health Symposium. We’re still looking for students who are interested in student well-being and participation and would like to go to conferences abroad for EUniWell as the face of Leiden University. So if students would like to represent our university at a European level, they could consider whether the Student Board would be for them or they could join one of the workgroups. Another option is to do something for EUniWell on a one-off basis, for instance helping organise an event. Plenty of options to get involved in EUniWell therefore!’

For more information or to sign up contact Fenna van Haeften: f.l.van.haeften@umail.leidenuniv.nl

EUniWell is working hard on various projects, such as the Mental Health in the EUniWell community project, which has been awarded a EUniWell grant. One part of the project is a symposium. In the run-up to this symposium the organisers are looking to hire (for a fee) Club Leaders and Mental Health Researchers.

Text: Lisanne Bos

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