MAASTRICHT. There will be an International Student Club for foreign students in Maastricht. The city authorities and the university are searching for a suitable location. One option is the basement of the Lambertus church, says the co-ordinator of the project for the city of Maastricht, Frans van de Weerdt.
The idea of providing foreign students with their own place has been around for a while. Becoming a member of a regular student association is not popular among them, not many will ever see the inside of a debating society or association. At the same time, they represent 50 per cent of the membership of UM Sports and they organise all kinds of parties and music events. Astrid Boeijen, director of Student Services SSC during a university council committee meeting: “There should to be a place where they can go, also for voluntary work.”
According to Frans van de Weerdt, the problem became more urgent when The Highlander pub was shut down: “ESN, the Erasmus Student Network, used to meet there. Since then, they have been roaming the city, changing their venue from one pub to another, often with some 150 people. Or they go to the Muziekgieterij, which doesn’t really have a permit for such activities. The city council has offered to find them another place. We want a long-term solution.”
At the moment, various buildings are being reviewed, but the Lambertus church appears to be the most serious option. The church is owned by housing association Servatius. One of the ideas is to use the building as a bar and/or restaurant, possibly in combination with something else, such as student accommodation. Van de Weerdt expects that a basic decision will be made before the summer. “After that we will discuss permits and things like that.”
Meanwhile, SSC has asked ESN to broaden its scope in connection with the introduction of an International Student Club. So far, ESN has focused exclusively on exchange students. Boeijen: “We asked them whether they would consider becoming a club for all foreign students. They said they would.”