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AD VALVAS - Student union demands solution for homeless students

24 September 2021
AD VALVAS - Hundreds of students are without a room, especially internationals. Student Union SRVU organises a protest meeting on 28 september on campus. Pieter van Rossum, vice chair of the student union, thinks it’s up to VU Amsterdam to solve the housing shortage among its students.

There was recently a massive housing protest in Amsterdam. Why another protest on campus for international students?
“We’re not solely protesting against the housing shortage for international students, but for all homeless students. If students are becoming homeless, it deserves its own protest. The international students do have a higher risk of becoming homeless because they have a less expansive network. It’s less likely for them to know someone who can help them find a place, or a couch to sleep on. They’re discriminated against when they apply for shared student apartments. And they can’t just drop by their parents’ house. We’re also protesting for the students who live in Maastricht because they can’t find a place in Amsterdam.”

How many students are actually impacted by this?
“We’re in touch with 230 homeless international VU students. We also had contact with HvA and UvA students, but we’re currently focusing on VU Amsterdam. The problem certainly affects more students than the ones we’re currently in touch with.”

SRVU is demanding accommodation for all homeless VU students. Where could they be housed?
“We have heard about initiatives in – I believe – Utrecht and Groningen, where a hotel is temporarily rented. That is an option. In any case, it has to be solved. VU Amsterdam needs to manage it now, or else there will be students sleeping in the streets or going back to their country of origin. That is indefensible.”

Should VU Amsterdam be held accountable, or the municipality and/or the government?“We see the growth policy of the university as a huge catalyst for the problem. Many students feel like they were really mislead. They thought: I’ll come here and within three months I’ll find a room, but it turns out differently. We ask VU Amsterdam to acknowledge and take its responsibility. We see that not everything is to blame on the university, but in part due to its policy the housing shortage has worsened.”

Should VU Amsterdam set up campaigns to ward off international students? ‘Don’t come, because you won’t find a place to live’?
“We want better information to be provided for international students. And if VU Amsterdam accepts an X amount of students, then there should be place for that X amount of students. The university has grown too rapidly and now significant compensations are required to accommodate that growth.”

Read more about the protest, including the concrete demands of SRVU, on the Ad Valvas website.