Many students feel that there are too few places to go out and socialise in the city, particularly for international students. In their opinion, if the Gemeente Maastricht have their way there will be even fewer by September, with much of the disagreement centred around various unlicensed venues in the centre. On Friday 8 June a demonstration took place in the Maastricht city park to raise awareness of the dwindling number of student entertainment venues in the city.
There are certain buildings around Boschstraat that are primarily squatted by UM students, but also used to host various events such as BBQs, live music, poetry events and movie nights. Many times the police have been forced to close such events because of the legalities involved and the complaints of noise in the area. Students feel pushed out of Maastricht society because of the lack of support from residents, especially since the threat of the closure of the Muziekgieterij.
Hans-Christian Jaeger, a third-year IB student, felt that student entertainment in Maastricht is on a decline and that it was very important the debate took place. “The places where we can go out in Maastricht are very limited. Over the last 12 months so many places have closed, and there seems to be very little support from the municipality to stop any more from closing.” Victor Ramón Stoljarow, a third-year Arts and Culture student, felt the same: “At the moment it just seems like the city doesn’t want the international students they invite here. We just want an open space where we can hold events.”
Many of the people who attended the demonstration were students, but there were also residents and graduates who no longer live in Maastricht. Diana Lemlijn, a graduate of Fine Arts, still lives in one of the buildings disputed over by the police and the Gemeente. Although she agrees that once or twice the parties have got out of hand, there is a respect people have when they go to events held at the squatted locations. “This is our home. So when people come here they know not to break anything.” When asked about the safety of the buildings hosting events she was adamant they are safe: “We had security checks on the buildings about three years ago, and the police came to check it before we moved in. We don’t have a landlord to do safety checks, so we have to cover that ourselves, which we do because we want to wake up safely in the morning.”
The aim of the debate during the demonstration was to bring people together in one place, and discuss the problem from all angles. Yet Paul Lamberts, from the Gemeente Maastricht, made it very clear that this is not an issue they will be able to solve overnight, saying: “You have brought this to our attention and put the issue on the map. There are lots of possibilities and we have to explore the solutions.”