It all started in 1981, when students from Leiden discussed the possibility of founding an association of political science students. Political science was not an independent bachelor study, but a specialization within Law. During the first meeting in café ‘De Uyl van Hoogland’ the name of the association was agreed upon: Gapende Hoogten, after the book 'Gapende Hoogten' by Aleksander Zinovjev. The name was agreed upon by all attendees and was registered in the local Chamber of Commerce. Gapende Hoogten was now officially founded.
Despite the fact that Political Science was a rather minor part of the Law Faculty, the political activities were well visited. The first activity of Gapende Hoogten was a movienight where the film 'All the President’s men' was shown. Guest speakers who spoke at readings always got the same gift: Zinovjev's book 'Gapende Hoogten'. The first international trip (Bonn), organized in the association's second year after founding. In 1983 the University of Leiden decided that there should be a separate study for Political Science. Because of this, two other Political Science associations were founded. The internatioanal Leidse Political Science Association (LePSA), and one that released a magazine, called Debat.
Merger into the SPIL
The then chairman of the department of Political Science, Hans Daalder, decided that three associations was two too many. All three had good intentions but they would only get subsidised when the three associations would merger. And that's how it happened. Since 1988 the activities that before were provided by Gapende Hoogten, LePSA and Debat were now provided by the SPIL.
The committee of foreign activities came out of LePSA, the committee of internal activities came out of Gapende Hoogten and out of Debat came Debat (the magazine of the study association). To finance the expensive Debat the SPIL founded a book-fond: the SPIL decided to work with book store Kooyker so that its members could get their books cheaper.
Since the years 1995/1996 the tasks of the SPIL were expanded to include the job opportunity seminar Political scientists in Perspective (PiP). This seminar still takes place every year with help from the political science associations of the Free University (EOS), the University of Amsterdam (Machiavelli) and the University of Nijmegen (Ismus).
During the trip to Rome in 1996 the SPIL got into contact with Italian political science students. It was decided then to found an international student association for political science. Because of the information and connections exchanged a lot of other associations in Europe got interested. In 1998 after a seminar in Leiden it was decided to found the International Association of Political Science Students (IAPSS).
These days the SPIL is still a flourishing association which, since its founding, has only managed to be successful thanks to people who believe in the SPIL and who think that it is a fun association.