Jouke De Vries is dangerously out of touch
Translated by Thomas Ansell
Student organisations, members of the Groningen city council, and large numbers of residents in the city are outraged by comments made by the RUG board chair Jouke De Vries in an interview last weekend, reports RTV Noord. De Vries, who has worked at the RUG in various capacities for over a decade, used an interview with the NRC newspaper to claim that student housing in Groningen is operating as it should, including comments suggesting that ‘the market’ would provide the necessary housing for currently-homeless students.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, De Vries’ comments have been slammed as out of touch and ignorant. “I read it with my eyes wide”, says Groningen D66 faction leader Tom Rustebiel. De Vries’ comments included the line “students aren’t staying under bridges” (untrue).
“We’re very angry about the contents of that interview”, says the Shelter Our Students campaign, who forced the RUG into agreeing to create emergency housing following a direct action campaign last week. “It’s incredible that the RUG chair is of the opinion that everything is fine. He’s evidently not up to date with reality”, says the campaign.
Following the SOS sit in, the RUG agreed to build both emergency housing (tens of students remain homeless nearly 3 weeks into the academic year), and also begin work on more long-term housing at Zernike campus. The SOS campaign has already said that De Vries’ interview underlines their lack of trust in the institution to fix housing problems in the long run.