MAASTRICHT. “The time when the term ‘student’ was associated with disturbance, is behind us,” said mayor Onno Hoes during the Maastricht city council meeting on Tuesday, 17 December. The Student&Stad (Student&City) action programme, set up in co-operation with the university and various student organisations, was carried unanimously by the city council.
The plan contains more than sixty action points. They vary from experimenting with consultation without appointment for international students at the city council desk, to setting up a student volunteer centre. There was some discussion during the council meeting about the information on drugs that foreign students receive. Labour Party council member Antoine van Lune: “At the moment, students get their weed from street dealers, because they don’t know how to get into the coffee shop.” This led to a protest from Kitty Nuyts from the Maastricht Liberal Party (LPM) and others. “Coffee shops themselves are not allowed to advertise, so we - the city council- are certainly not going to do it for them.” Van Lune emphasised that it was not about advertising, but explaining the Dutch coffee shop policies.
Another issue is housing. Most parties prefer small-scale campuses, spread across the city. The mayor also likes this plan. Hoes: “If you house thousands of students in immense locations, you create separate villages. That’s not what we want. We must also look at each neighbourhood to see how many student houses they can handle. Sometimes, it is 80 per cent, sometimes only 10.” The LPM would like to see the former Overmaze prison being converted into student flats. Another option that the city council should consider, is the Molenhof care centre on the Sint Pieterstraat. Van Lune asked the mayor to pay extra attention to illegal housing and shady intermediaries, who ask too much rent and mediation costs.
Furthermore a number of parties believe that the Muziekgieterij should quickly be given a full night-time permit. The pop podium could then serve as a temporary location for the International Students Club. The Labour Party and the GroenLinks (Green Left) also asked if the city council could investigate the possibility of setting up a single portal with information for students in English, possibly in collaboration with the Department of Knowledge Engineering.
Finally, a motion by GroenLinks was carried to include the category ‘student’ for the annual volunteer awards.