NetCom Times: Local Agora To Prepare for the Big Agora

It has been repeated over and over again that it is very important to prepare delegates, visitors and envoys for the statutory events. It is essential to go through proposals and candidatures before flying to the Agora destination and The AEGEEan interviewed different antennae that prepare meetings for that particular purpose.

In Budapest members who want to be delegates have to write a motivation letter in order to apply for the position, they have to present themselves in front of the assembly where votes are cast by other members. As for visitors, the board creates the list according to a policy which says board members should be first, then mid-level leaders, active members and others. AEGEE-Leiden also selects delegates in a local Agora where candidates present themselves and then the members vote. The procedure of selecting visitors is also similar to what happens in Budapest We select visitors by first promoting the Agora among our members: telling what it is all about, why it is important and a great experience. When people apply to become a visitor, the board goes through the applications and looks at the motivations. Based on their motivation, the board decides in which order the visitors will be put, Sandrine Lafay from AEGEE-Leiden tells The AEGEEan.

As for the preparations, many antennae such as AEGEE-Groningen, AEGEE-Enschede and AEGEE-Amsterdam, AEGEE-Budapest before the Agora always have a so called Agora night where they simulate the Agora with most of its sessions and also present the proposals and candidates in order to find out the members’ opinions about the decisions the delegates have to make. “Of course during our simulation we don’t only vote in favor and against the proposals, but we try to talk about them. This way the delegates can later ask the questions which came up in the Prytania sessions. The result of the Agora Night is always recorded and the delegates should keep to those!” AEGEE-Leiden also hosts a Pre Agora meeting discussing all proposals and candidatures We think it’s very important because delegates need to represent the local as a whole. The Pre Agora Meeting is the moment to discuss with all active members about what we think, so we can come up with a voting advice that represents the opinion of AEGEE-Leiden. To make sure that everyone’s well prepared at the Pre Agora Meeting, we distribute the proposal and candidature booklets among our members so they can read everything and form their own opinion before we start the Pre Agora Meeting. Moreover, we assign the different proposals and different candidatures to small groups of people that will present them at the Pre Agora Meeting, to make sure that even those who haven’t done the reading know what the proposal is about. During the Pre Agora Meeting we present and discuss about each proposal and candidature one by one and write down the arguments and voting advice for our delegates,” Sandrine says.

Clearly it is not only important to prepare the delegates but also the visitors so they have information about what is happening at what they are attending. AEGEE-Alicante told The AEGEEan how they focus on this matter It is important to prepare not only delegates, but also visitors, so they can follow the discussion representing the antenna and understand why they are there. If we know that there will be newbies in the meeting, we explain what an Agora is, and then, we proceed to talk about candidatures and proposals and discuss all of it to reach a consensus so that they vote and act on behalf of AEGEE-Alicante as a whole rather than their individual opinion.

There are different ways to help the members of the antennae financially in taking part in the statutory events. Whereas Budapest reimburses the fee to board members, delegates and honorary members, AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Utrecht focuses on the travel costs. Where AEGEE-Utrecht reimburses 1/3 of the travel cost for their delegates, AEGEE-Amsterdam has a more complex system. Delegates get 50% of the travel costs reimbursed (till the maximum amount of €100), but first they have to make a little review about the Agora. The same goes for visitors who can get 25% of the travel costs reimbursed (till maximum amount of €50). AEGEE-Enschede implemented this year a 25 € reimbursement to the delegates. The AEGEEan also talked with AEGEE-Groningen about the same topic and the secretary Josine Rawee said Normally we don’t, but when we cannot find enough delegates because the travel costs are too high, we sometimes give them reimbursement”.

The AEGEEan is also preparing delegates and visitors for the Agora having published interviews with candidates, organizers, explanations of proposals and more. Erika Bettin is the editor of the People’s section and says This year I’m following the Agora preparation even more closely because I’m the Editor of the People section in The AEGEEan. For who doesn’t now, the People section hosts all the interviews given from candidates. Being a delegate myself, after reading all the applications, I wanted to ask a lot of questions to the candidates. During the Agora, usually, you see an endless line of people asking for questions that may or may not be answered. By doing the interviews, The AEGEEanis is giving everyone a chance to have a clearer overview. Personally, I was quite surprised to see how few people sent questions through our form. This is an important occasion to get to know the candidates better.

Hopefully next time before Agora Cagliari there will be more questions submitted for the candidates and envoys, delegates and visitors can all be prepared in an even better way for the statutory event.

Written by Patricia Anthony, AEGEE-Zaragoza