RSM STAR: 40 years of students working for students

As RSM’s STAR student association gears up to celebrate its 40th anniversary of providing social, corporate and alumni-oriented activities to current students from all programmes, RSM Outlook magazine spoke to one of the organisation’s very first board members and two current flagbearers.

Story by Kevin Titman

When an organisation run by students in the interests of students can count 6,500 members (of whom 300 are currently active working representatives), comprises 29 committees dedicated to a range of social events, and also includes 13 Master Study Clubs built around a series of management-related themes, then it is something worth writing home about. Born from the 2005 merger of the SviiB and BActive organisations already in place at RSM, STAR has celebrated its 40th year of bringing together bachelor, master and MBA students under a wide-reaching portfolio of initiatives designed to create new personal development opportunities for all involved.

Plans on paper

Discussions about the structure, status and strategic priorities of the association began in November 1976, as treasurer of the first-ever board Alexander Maas (Doctoraal Postkandidaats Bedrijfskunde 1976) explains: ‘We started small but we were already thinking big. Whilst a one-off event like a football tournament to create bonds would have been a good enough start, we had all kinds of other ambitions in mind as well – from establishing and maintaining connections with industry, governments and other student associations and running more corporate events, through to managing a book fund campaign, facilitating student exchanges, and providing day-to-day support on issues such as accommodation, sports activities, and embarking on trips abroad. All the way through, the focus was always on the student experience and still is.’

The present day

From these humble but fruitful beginnings, STAR has grown to become the largest business administration student-run association of its kind, not only in the Netherlands but also in Europe.

Activities have become more extensive and more internationally-oriented, plus there is a clear intention coming loud and clear from the chair of the current board, Marc Gijsbers (BSc IBA 2017), for the organisation to be as all-inclusive as possible: ‘Since taking on the role in August 2017, this has been an eye-opening experience. I am ultimately running a mini-business comprising eight full-time board members, interfacing with not only students but also alumni and companies, and also learning on the job. Regardless of the set-up, our aim remains clear – to bring all RSM students together via social activities that will enrich the fun side of university life but also provide support that will serve them later in life.’

Bridging the gap

One of the many beauties of the run-by-students-for-students ethic behind STAR is the opportunity it provides for its representatives to contribute a vital element to academic life that blends the social and the more serious, all from the perspective of fellow students. For Brasil Wouters (current RSM student, chair of the STAR Activity Team, and chair and treasurer of the STAR Eurekaweek Committee) this has proved to be a defining element in her participation in the Association since she began her involvement.

‘Getting involved in STAR has enabled me to learn so much about myself, about project management, about teamwork, whilst above all delivering the main service to which all STAR members are committed – providing that vital connection between the studies which we all seek to complete, enjoying ourselves along the way, looking to develop on a personal level, and preparing for life after graduation,’ Wouters says.

On the agenda

Never wanting to rest on its laurels, but with all due respect for its history, STAR has set in place a number of priorities for the near future, as well as celebrating its 40th anniversary. Marc Gijsbers has stated the need for the organisation to persist in its drive for continued professionalism and to ensure that all students (newbies and more experienced alike) feel served by the activities and opportunities that STAR presents.

In recognition of the past, a series of lustrum events were organised in the spring that provided a perfect encapsulation of STAR’s remit: a beer cantus (beer drinking and singing) at Hal4 aan de Maas, followed by a “Chic Day” that included watching horse racing at Renbaan Duinzigt in Wassenaar, and an auction. The proceeds are being donated to the Dutch cancer charity, KWF.

Celebrations concluded with a Closing Night at the World Trade Center in Rotterdam and a “Force for Positive Change” event, during which a panel of industry speakers debated topics relating to corporate social responsibility and sustainability. In short, another STAR-run success. By students. For students.

This article was first published in RSM Outlook summer 2018 – RSM’s alumni and corporate relations magazine. You can download RSM Outlook here.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at


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