Is Maastricht a student city? That was the leading question of the debate that the Green Party organised last Monday evening in the Bonbonnière. The answer: not really.
The four student panellists as well as the eighty visitors agree on the undeniable lack of facilities for sports and culture. Maastricht doesn’t even have a student theatre, says panel member Jessica van Zinnicq Bergmann, chair of student drama association Alles is Drama. “And for the last four years, we haven’t noticed any subsidies.” The sports clubs do receive some financial support, says Joep Lucassen, chair of the Red Socks football club. “But still, not enough. For example, the gymnastics club is having to refuse new members because of a lack of space.”
Sports and culture are not exactly a selling point for Maastricht University, according to university council member Thomas Luijken. “It’s not only about attracting students,” says Bergmann, “but also about giving them a comfortable study period.” But students come here to study, someone objects. Bergmann: “Look at Oxford – the first thing that springs to mind is their sports.”
The rest of the debate, attended by relatively many Germans, centres around the matter that exercises many minds: integration. People laugh when Lucassen mentions that he studies International Business, which almost completely consists of Germans. It’s also striking, he says, that the lacrosse and handball clubs also only count Germans as members.
Then the question arises: is non-integration really a problem? Is it a problem if UM happens to be a Dutch-German university? “If foreign students show no drive to integrate, that’s fine with me”, says Bart Kleine Deters, the chair of Koko. But the resulting non-understanding and friction, says another student, are good reasons in favour of integration.
At the end of the evening, Koko announces that a political debate will be held in February. Will it be in Dutch or English? someone asks. “Well, ehh …”