“Where will this end? Is the government also going to fix the rent?”

Debating in an improvised studio

19-08-2020

MAASTRICHT. Having a BBQ in the city park should be allowed. Pubs should be open 24 hours a day. You should be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages on the street. Hazing should be abolished. Just a few of the propositions discussed first by four political youth parties last Tuesday, and then by the four large Maastricht student associations. In English.

With no audience and from an improvised studio in the Student Services Centre, rector Rianne Letschert kicked off the debate that could be followed via a livestream. The first proposition ‘Having a BBQ in the city park should be allowed’ didn’t cause a heated debate between local student party MOED and the Young Socialists. It should be allowed, they thought, but students must be responsible; so clean up rubbish and prevent fires.

Renting of rooms

It became a little more exciting when JOVD (young liberals) and PINK (political youth organisation for the Animals Party) went up against each other. The proposition: the Maastricht city council should prevent landlords from renting to either only girls or only guys or students from a certain country. JOVD feels that a landlord should have the freedom to choose his tenants, “the house is after all his property,” they said. PINK referred to the right to housing for everyone. “Where will this end,” the young liberal wondered. “Is the government also going to fix the rent? Before you know it, there will be no private landlords anymore.”

Hazing

After a “commercial break”, as the rector called it – with videos from UM Sports, football club MVV, Saurus and Pathé cinema – the chair persons from Saurus, Circumflex, Tragos and Koko entered the arena. Again, there were stimulating propositions, such as ‘hazing must be abolished’. Mark Albers from Tragos felt that this was a “negative proposition”. He wanted to suggest a more positive one. But the rector nipped it in the bud. This is the proposition that we are discussing, she said. Albers argued that it was good that one association does engage in hazing and the other doesn’t. That way, students really have a choice. Tragos is sticking to its hazing as it “creates a bond between first-year students and it is a good way to get to know the rules, the history, in short the whole association. It is not about humiliation, which is sometimes thought.”

Jordi Janssen from Koko feels that creating that bond can be achieved in other ways: “Instead of hazing, we all go on an introduction weekend. We have lots of fun, we don’t force anyone to do anything, that is how real friendship comes about. Not just between first-year students, but also between first-year and senior students.”

Work together

The audience was also allowed to ask questions. What do you learn at an association that you can’t learn somewhere else, someone wanted to know? The four chairpersons appeared to be in agreement: it is a good preparation for professional life. “You learn how to organise, speak in public and work together. So it is good for your personal development,” summarised Rosalie Bovie from Saurus and Stan der Vleuten from Circumflex.

“Where will this end? Is the government also going to fix the rent?”
The debate, with on the right rector Rianne Letschert