City and university council on first date

The U-council and city council in the Statenzaal

City and university council on first date

On housing, the quality of life, welfare and economy

25-01-2024 · Reportage

MAASTRICHT. It sometimes seemed like an awkward first date, the meeting between the city council and the university council Tuesday night in the Law Faculty's Statenzaal. But shared concerns gradually emerged that call for a follow-up: student housing, the growth of the university and, yes, the long-standing gap between Dutch students, internationals and 'ordinary' Maastricht people.

"The key figures in the city," exclaimed moderator Simone van Trier, pointing to the almost complete university council present with chairman Teun Dekker and representatives of the Senioren Stadspartij Maastricht, D66, CDA, VOLT and SP, among others. The purpose of this evening, which was conducted half in English, half in Dutch: getting to know each other and "discussing shared interests", according to the press release.

This getting-to-know-you was necessary, it turned out during one of the 'sessions' that zoomed in on a specific topic (housing, welfare, economy, quality of life). One of the councilmembers wondered whether the students are also attached to parties, and if they then have ideals and a party programme, plus: "How long do you actually sit on the U-council as a student?" The answer: "One year." "One year?", the member of Senioren Stadspartij Maastricht repeated in surprise. And when the conversation finally got going, the time was already up. Attention point for next time, Van Trier therefore rightly said. 
What is noted in any case, but certainly not new: some Maastricht residents feel "threatened" by the "unbridled" growth of the university, the Dutch language is an obstacle for international students, as is the lack of connection with the city, the cultural differences, but also the sometimes absurdly high rents.

In the meantime, e-mail addresses were exchanged, invitations were sent to sit in on one another's meetings and it was asked whether one could reinforce the other ("Is there a task for us as the city council to guide the uni and the student when rents are too high?"). Dreaming big is also allowed. Of a 'joint cooking day', for example, for all Maastricht residents, because "you have to look for something that binds you", suggests U-council member Netty Bekkers. After all, cooking together works even if you don't understand each other.

Author: Wendy Degens

Photo: archive gemeente Maastricht

Tags: u-council,city council, studenthousing

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