In a rather unusual form of protest, students gathered at the Groningen office of the student loan agency DUO on Sunday to voice their dissatisfaction with the decision to significantly raise loan interest rates. The event marks a buildup to a larger nationwide protest scheduled for Wednesday.
Concerns over loan interest rate hike
Recently, it was announced that, starting from January next year, interest rates on student loans would surge from 0.46% to 2.56%. This news has ignited frustration among students, who fear that these elevated rates may result in substantial repercussions. Maria Heeres, a spokesperson for the student group ROOD, told OOG TV: “These student loans can have serious implications for many individuals. Higher interest rates not only mean that they may get smaller mortgages later, but they also extend the duration of their loan repayment. It’s as if you’re penalized for pursuing higher education.”
One of the main grievances is that the government’s actions appear inconsistent with its earlier promises. “In 2015, it was pledged that student loans would be more favorable. However, the reality now is strikingly different, and the higher interest rates make loan repayment even more challenging for many. The accessibility of education seems to be consistently eroding, and the government continues to disappoint us,” Heeres added.
Peaceful protest takes an unconventional turn
The Sunday’s demonstration adopted a somewhat unconventional approach. Students gathered at the DUO building, located at Kempkensberg, and distributed purple sex toys to convey their message of dissent. The reason why the students chose those specific objects to express their frustration is not known. The toys were then hurled toward the building, with some sticking to the glass due to their suction cups. Amid chants and the placement of protest posters in the vicinity, it was a fairly unorthodox way for the protesters to to articulate their discontent.
The Groningen protest event is a precursor to the nationwide demonstration set to take place in The Hague on Wednesday, with a considerable turnout expected from students across the country.