The Audit Commission will have a new Commissioner elected at the Autumn Agora 2020. Thomas Meekel, member of AEGEE-Leiden since 2015, Audit Commissioner since 2020, Subcommissioner of the Network Commission during the period 2018-19, and non-formal trainer on Fundraising. We had a chat with him about his motivation and plans for the Audit Commission.
Hello, Thomas and thank you for your time to be interviewed. To start off, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career in AEGEE?
Hi there, it is an honour to be interviewed by The AEGEEan. My name is Thomas Meekel and I am a member of AEGEE-Leiden. Last year I finished my master’s degree of Criminal Law at Leiden University, and currently I’m doing a second master in Forensic Criminology there. I became very active within AEGEE-Leiden, was part of many committees and eventually became board member of my local. People there probably know me for my puns, my love for the Dutch snack ‘frikandelbroodje’ and my endless enthusiasm. It was only since the start of 2020 that I became quite active on a European Level
What was your life before AEGEE?
I joined AEGEE around the same time that I started with my university degree. So, before AEGEE I was spending my time at my high school in Haarlem. During that time, I had a side job tutoring other high school students and I even sold ice cream on my ‘ice cream bicycle’ in Amsterdam for a while. I had a lot more spare time back then, so I started playing guitar. Unfortunately, I never became quite good at it.
What events can you remember as the most memorable during your membership of AEGEE, perhaps those which motivated you to be part of the AC?
There are so many great memories, but I think the best are from the events I organised. Among them are travels with members of AEGEE-Leiden to Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Ukraine and Spain. I also loved the Harry Potter theme weekend I organised together with an amazing team. And of course, the incredible experience of being a board member is unforgettable. However, the one event that got me hooked on discovering the European level of AEGEE was the New Years Event by AEGEE-Moskva and AEGEE-Sankt Petersburg.
Aside from some killer money puns, you have significant experience as an audit commissioner at the local level before stepping up to the European level at the last Agora. What sparked your interest in auditing?
So far you are the only one to actually compliment me on them, so thanks for that. I’m actually not sure how I ended up in the auditing field. In high school I followed courses on accounting, then I became treasurer of two committees and eventually became the treasurer of AEGEE-Leiden. After your term finished and your financial report has been approved, it is common practice for treasurers to join the local Audit Commission. Auditing requires a sharp look at details, the ability to ask critical questions and a sense of what is realistic and what isn’t. I think I acquired these skills and that makes it fun to keep doing this work. Next semester I will follow courses on forensic accountancy, and I’m really looking forward to that.
What is your flagship measure in this campaign?
It is necessary to take a critical look at the tasks of the Audit Commission. We need to see what the network needs from us, what we can’t provide and what extra tasks we can be beneficial in. Hopefully, this will also rebrand the image of the Audit Commission in a way that even more people will become enthusiastic to apply as (sub)commissioner. I’m open to suggestions on this topic!
Your program includes creating an alternative to the current voluntary financial reports due to the lack of participation from locals, raising the question whether there is still a need for financial reports for locals within AEGEE-Europe. What do you see as an alternative or replacement?
Unfortunately, I do not have a concrete alternative yet. That is exactly the point of my candidature, I will spend the first part of my term to find a workable alternative. At one hand, we currently have very little information about the network’s financial health, the budgets of European Events and the impact of COVID-19 on the financial situation of locals. On the other hand, the network has previously agreed to remove the financial reports from the Antenna Criteria. Maybe the solution is in the middle: Locals provide us with a report on their finances, but the Audit Commission drops some formalities. This would still provide us with useful information, but makes it way easier for locals to fill in.
To conclude, what are your next objectives in case you are not elected as Commissioner?
I’ll probably become active in another part of AEGEE, such as the Fundraising Committee or just organise cool activities in Leiden.