Outside of the majestic walls of our faculties, there is a world that many of my UM peers are not fully aware of – a Maastricht outside Maastricht University. Some have a faint notion that it is out there. For instance, there is Zuyd, the regional university of applied sciences, and its students - a lot of them, around 13.000. Then again you probably do not know where the next Zuyd building is, what a Zuyd facility is and what is already another school. But as the municipal election might have made you realize – if you even know that there are municipal elections at the 21st of March – there is a Maastricht of non-students. Of course, there is also university staff, but I am talking about the completely unaffiliated, the locals. They are just as ignorant about the little microcosms we call Maastricht inside of our university bubble as we are about their not-UM universe. While a city having fragmented communities is nothing extraordinary, it still must be a challenging experience for local politicians to represent those detached worlds - if they even have the ambition or the need to do so. As my roommate – a real, living and breathing local – put eloquently and a bit begrudgingly: “If you look at the municipal council you might think that there are no students in Maastricht.” But there are. One in four inhabitants are students, whether from UM, Zuyd or any other higher education facility. Yet, we remain invisible as students, remain astonishingly unengaged. Weirdly enough, Maastricht students are extremely active in standing up for issues they care about. They start little movements at Sharing is Caring, are part of student associations and inner-university initiatives. We do not remain silent when affordable housing is rare or when sexual misconduct becomes unbearable. But while we protest we unfortunately remain at the university level, making us dependent on the university to represent our interests on the city level that we are only fairly aware of. However, the university has interests of its own, which do not always align with their student’s. Given our size, a lot of power potential is lost here, which is a shame as there is quite some need for bargaining in our favour so that not-university Maastricht realizes the variety of our interests. Only, for that we need to realize that not-university Maastricht exists.
Asena Baykal, Bachelor Student European Studies