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Spring Agora 2013 Rhein-Neckar

Article posted: 4.08.13

The Spring Agora 2013 was held from 3rd till 7th of April in a small university city in Germany - in Mannheim. Mannheim is located at the confluence of the Rhine and the Neckar, that's why the official name for the Agora is Spring Agora Rhein-Neckar. The slogan under which Agora was held is "Together for Europe" and it was not chosen randomly, as the event was organized by 7 antennas: Mannheim, Heidelberg, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Mainz Wiesbaden, and Kaiserslautern - and they did it together for AEGEE.

Mannheim has the 18th century Castle, which host the University now and where workshops and prytania took place. The civic symbol of Mannheim is der Wasserturm, a water tower. The lodging place for participants was the school; we could choose a cozy classroom to sleep in and to remember good old school days.

Agora gathered this time around 530 people from all over Europe. The event lasted a bit longer than before, it gave a possibility to held 2 panel discussions: "The Bologna Reform: Experiences of the First Decade and Challenges Ahead" with following panel discussion on the European Education Policy: The Future of the Bologna Reform" and "Facing the crisis: The 2014 European Parliament elections and the role of young voters".

The first day of the event we also had a chance to play football what was organized by Sports Working Group under the slogan "Football tournament against Racism and Xenophobia". In the evening we had an opening ceremony, where after speeches of welcome, we could hear the beautiful opera singing of 4 Aegee members and the ceremony was closed with German Rock Group.

The next 3 days we were attending different prytania and voted for different candidatures and proposals. We got a new Network Commissioner - Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-Copenhagen; also the whole Comité Directeur was re-elected. Our network lost some antennas, but also we got 2 new - Aegee - London (which was re-established) and Aegee - Den Haag; 2 new projects were approved during the Agora - Health4Youth and Y vote 2014. The proposal about regional distribution by CD, which was discussed in the internet before and was a "hot topic" for some time and found many supporters and opponents, was rejected. The opponents say that we are struggling for united Europe without borders, so we should not create them inside our organization. AEGEE-Helsinki was also among opponents and voted against this proposal.

For visitors there were different workshops, the most popular workshop was organized by Visa Freedom Working Group. The main leader and speaker of the workshop was an American citizen living in Germany and the Czech Republic, Mrs. Kimberli Jo Lewis, who has a certificate from the London Coaching Academy.

The delegates also participated in the voting during the Agora. There were some interesting proposals during the Agora that were voted upon, here are a few of them:

Proposal 1 was voted in favor, and allows local board members to now become delegates as well. Before, only members, who were member for longer than one year could become a delegate, which presented some trouble for smaller locals who didn't have many locals willing to be a delegate.

Proposal 4 was a much debated topic about returning to the regional distribution. The CD had the proposal to return to the regional distribution, with regional network commissioners. When there still was a regional distribution, this had the benifit that locals were more collaborative and the network commissioners were working with the same locals every year. However, the Agora decided to get rid of the regional distribution a long time ago partly because it was considered unbefitting of a European organisation, and partly because of some incidents in which it was felt that the regions resulted in regional AEGEE cultures. This time again the Agora decided that reintroducing regions is undesired, thus leaving the CD with a dissapointing rejection of 61,88 percent.

Proposal 9. Another proposal that caught the attention of a lot of delagates, was the proposal to lift the maximum amount for the participantion fee for the Summer Universities. A lot of local Summer University organizers are struggeling to make ends meet when it comes down to making a benefitting Summer University with the allocaded budget coming forth out of the participantion fees. This often results in the local going into a frantic search for sponsor deals and support from many different institutions, and eventually might even result to using the local's own money. These locals must have been relieved to see that a majority of 72,4 percent voted in favor, thus allowing them to have a bit more room to breathe during the next Summer University.

Proposal 10. And the vote about allowing AEGEE contacts to participate in the SU project was a very popular vote, approved with 82,9 percent in favor, allowing new and upcoming AEGEE locals to let their members go on Summer University and thus giving potential new members a great insentive to become a member of AEGEE.

Besides voting for the proposals also the many different commissioners were voted in. This year the complete CD of the previous year decised to stand for election for this year again, making them one of the longest sitting CDs in the history of AEGEE. Although there was some controversion, that their early announcement to be electible again left all competition without a chance, the majority of the Agora embrased their gesture, giving the CD another year to work on their plans for AEGEE.

Besides the voting there were of course also many different parties with a different thematic focus - Suit-up, fitness, Easter and cross-dressing. The European Night was monitored by Cultural Working Group, so they made it as cultural as possible: no drinks and food - just music, dances and other cultural presentations.

The best moment for AEGEE-Helsinki was announcing of AEGEEan voting results for different categories and our t-shirt "I m in Helsinki bitch" won the best merchandise 2012!

This Agora was organized very well, even waking up at 5.30 - 6.00 (after the parties! somebody called it a German terror) and too much potatoes for the meal didn't spoil our impression about the organization.

Marta Tiainen - Member of AEGEE-Helsinki
Elina Häkkinen - HR responsible '12 of AEGEE-Helsinki