Groninger students used the opening of the new academic year as an opportunity to express their anger about the ongoing housing crisis.
Translated by Mehret Haile-Mariam
The campaign “Shelter our Students” (SOS) organized a demonstration against the lack of student housing and the University of Groningen’s (RUG) rapid growth. According to SOS, the housing crisis targeting especially international students is clearly linked to the immense growth of the University of Groningen. The campaign’s spokesperson, Marinus Jongman, stated that SOS gave shelter to more than 150 homeless students. However, these students may have found temporary shelter, but they are still homeless and in need of long-term housing.
For this reason, SOS decided to protest at Martinikerk, alongside the festive opening of the academic year. Their message was clear as their banners called for free emergency housing and an end to the university’s endless growth. While hundreds of extra student residences are built every year, RUG keeps accepting more and more students.
The RUG keeps growing
To resolve the housing problem within the student community, concludes Jongman, “the underlying cause of the issue needs to be tackled – the growth of the University of Groningen.”
The university’s growth in recent years has had several consequences for students and teachers. Last year, the Democratic Academy of Groningen calculated that 10,000 hours of overtime are accumulated every day at the University of Groningen. Partly because whilst student numbers have been increasing, funding for higher education has not.
Instead of finding temporary solutions, SOS urges the RUG administration to resolve the problem once and for all. They demand the construction of student residences at Zernike Campus, the immediate set up of emergency shelters for students in need, the improvement of communication regarding future incidents, and an end to the university’s immense growth.