Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
What the purpose was, said moderator professor Harm Hospers at some stage during the great election debate between Dope and Novum last week, was that the differences between the two student parties would become clearer. With little stimulating interventions, he therefore did his very best to discover those differences. It turned out to be a difficult job.
However, the debate was no less lively because of it. The first point had already been made anyway: last year there was no debate at all. The turnout has also been less. A rough estimate: about a hundred people in the auditorium at the Minderbroedersberg. Of whom - again a rough estimate - the majority consisted of Dope supporters. At least judging by the number of blue shirts (Novum wears green) and certainly judging by the noise that was produced when the two Dope candidates scored a point in the eyes of their supporters. Indeed, that was the case slightly more often than for Novum and completely owing to their somewhat more crafty debating style – you could also say: debating tricks – by Dope. Where Novum generally delivered by finely arguing the content, Dope often opted for a direct attack. For example, in reply to the statement that in these times of budget cuts, student facilities should take second place, Constanze Müller from Novum and candidate leader for the university council, gave a balanced answer. “Of course we want better facilities, but you cannot do everything in one year, you have to be realistic,” she said. “Except for one thing, the sports hall; that was promised so it should come.”
David Schmidt, candidate leader for Dope, replied: “But your programme in the election magazine says nothing about sports.” Müller: “There was not much space, you cannot include everything.”
Schmidt again: “We at Dope did put all the important issues in our programme.”
A free shot of course, and a thunderous applause from the supporters.
But were there huge differences in opinions? Not often, some here and there. For example, Dope wants to put a stop to the compulsory mixed Inkom groups: Dutch students should be able to choose Dutch groups. Novum, on the other hand, thinks that someone who registers at an international university should also share the Inkom with people of other nationalities, in short: in English and mixed. Both parties, by the way, claimed to have come up with the idea of basic Dutch language courses for foreign students. As far as the increase of lecture fees was concerned: both parties were willing to discuss this, provided that the quality of education went up proportionally. And the final discussion point - ‘the education budget always takes precedence over the budget for research’ - provided a uniform point of view again: both education and research are important, it is about the balance, they said.
One conclusion is clear: it has not become any easier for the voters.