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Member of Honour - What the Vonk?!

I jumped up from my chair when I saw that the Minutes of the General Meeting of E.T.S.V. Scintilla of the 6th of April were uploaded to SOFA. I had been hitting the F5 button for a while by then, so my left index finger needed some well-deserved rest. I took my bicycle and biked as hard as I could for the Archives in the Vrijhof building to start my extremely exciting adventure!

Thijmen Hoeksma submitted a document to the board in which he gave motivation to nominate Mickey Derks to become a “Member of Honour” of E.T.S.V. Scintilla. He argued that great academic achievement should not be a criteria to become an honorary member, but rather the impact on the association and the study of Electrical Engineering. According to Thijmen, Mickey contributed through:

  • contributing in 9 different committees,
  • doing a board year in 2014,
  • still being active in 5 of his committees, 8 years after the start of his board year,
  • designing the Segway Project of Module 6 of the Electrical Engineering programme, creating a better study,
  • always bringing happiness to the SK,
  • always being available to help out members, even though he is not responsible as a board member.

I had been wanting to write about Thijmen’s proposal pretty much since he announced it during the General Meeting in question. I thought it was a very interesting discussion which was in dire need of some archive-diving. During the General Meeting, it came down to an exciting vote, that unfortunately could not be compared to previous Member of Honour appointments, unless you heard the ancient stories or have been fortunate enough to visit Scintilla’s archives yourselves. What makes a member of Scintilla candidate for a Member of Merit, or even Member of Honour? Who even are Members of Merit? What the Vonk?

The proposal of Thijmen was the last point on the agenda, so I had built up quite some anticipation by then. The members present were very sceptical (in an honest and fair way). Therefore Melissa Tijink introduced the existence of a ‘Member of Merit’ as a suggestion instead of immediately considering the highly regarded Member of Honour nomination. In her opinion being a member of honour should never be based on a quantative measure such as the number of committees you were in. There should be a qualitative or unique reason before a ' Member of Honour' should be appointed.

After a lengthy discussion which was mostly filled with speculation on what would or would not define a Member of Honour, it came down to a decisive vote of 9 votes in favour, 27 against and 5 abstinence to the appointment of Mickey as Member of Honour. The board decided to appoint Mickey as Member of Merit.

I had a lot of questions in my mind. I had never heard of the ‘Member of Merit’ title, so obviously did not meet any that I could compare Mickey to. Of course, Bram Nauta is obviously familiar as I was enjoying his lectures right then in Module 11. I decided to look for more information on what a Member of Merit entails and what another person did in order to become a Member of Honour.

Figure 1: Definition of a member of merit

Figure 1: Definition of a member of merit

On the 15th of April in 2008, the General Meeting resulted in the new right of the board to appoint ‘Leden van Verdienste’ or ‘Members of Merit’ and to their own estimation decide on a budget for the award ceremony. In the (roughly) written minutes a Member of Merit gets rewarded with a free membership, over which period is unfortunately not specified. Also, it is decided to reconsider who is applicable, which I doubt really is a decision but rather an action point that unfortunately was never done. There was a vote however that did appoint an unknown ‘De Groot’ as Member of Merit, although the reason was not specified. I did find another story on Klaas Bangma, vice-chairman of the predecessor to the STORES, the C.C.V.S. It is not explicitly noted down, but implied that he was appointed Member of Merit for the work he did for the C.C.V.S, as he just gave an overview of history of C.C.V.S.

Figure 2: Proposition to appoint Jan Muller as Member of Honour

Figure 2: Proposition to appoint Jan Muller as Member of Honour

Figure 3: Proposition to appoint Jan Muller as Member of Honour

Figure 3: Proposition to appoint Jan Muller as Member of Honour

I could find documentation on the appointment of Jan Muller, head of building affairs of the EL/TN-building where Scintilla and most of the Electrical Engineering facilities resided at the time. They refer to the Articles of Association where it is described that: ‘A member of honour are those who have been appointed through a General Meeting because of their extraordinary merits to the association’, where the choice of wording makes differentiation between a member of honour and merit even more confusing…

Fortunately, they supply an extended overview of the reasons the board support their proposal. Jan Muller was suggested because of his work for:

  • the help in organising Scintilla-activities,
  • improving Scintilla’s recognisability,
  • good communication to the association concerning building access,
  • the acquisition of great spaces in the building: the Scintilla-room, de Tombe (read more about ‘de Tombe’ in Rick’s recent article here) and the IEEE-room,
  • in general, always being helpful and the preservation of red as EE-colour.

A spectacular 31 in favour, 0 against and 3 abstinence vote resulted in the appointment of Jan Muller as Member of Honour of E.T.S.V. Scintilla. His overall contribution to the association was valued to be as important as the academic contributions of the ‘Bram Nauta’s that went before him.’

Conclusively, becoming a member of honour is delicate procedure. Extraordinary merits to the association can be interpreted in various ways. Purposefully, the requirements are not quantitative or described in detail, in order for each individual member to decide for themselves whether a member is worthy. During a General Meeting, a vote is held and the decision is made. Two heads are better than one. The procedure is a fair one and I am curious to when the next Member of Honour will be appointed.