AIM Debate: Financialization of the UvA?

15 April 2016

On Thursday 7 April, the Academic Committee and the AIM Board collaborated on organising an informative and intellectual debate on the recent Maagdenhuis movements surrounding the UvA. The debate was held at the Vondelbunker.

PPLE and its study association, AIM, consider the Maagdenhuis occupation and encompassing discussions about democracy and financial priorities within the University of Amsterdam an important issue to illuminate in one’s UvA career. Particularly since the crowd (PPLE students, among others) consisted of both Dutch youth and international students. The former have probably been in the midst of university protest controversies during recent years and thus are likely to have supported a certain side of the debate or at least formed an individual opinion. The latter might be new to the issue or have a very different perspective originating from one’s own domestic education regulations.

Critical thinking

The night itself turned out very well – over 30 students and other guests joined the intimate debate, enjoyed a drink provided by the study association and asked the guest speakers interesting and critical questions. Incredibly fortunate was the generosity from the Vondelbunker volunteers, who let AIM use their historical space right underneath the Vondelpark’s bridge, a location exclusively open to critical thinking and challenging ruling norms in society. The ensuing debate tackled the topic in an academic manner, curating speakers so as to weigh out all ideas and allow comments to follow into a productive debate.

For this, several special guest speakers were enthusiastically welcomed:

  • Eric Fischer (ex-Department of Societal and Behavioural Sciences and Department of Economics and Business dean),
  • Han van der Maas (Head of UvA’s Psychological Methods track and frequent publisher of opinion pieces on the Maagdenhuis discussion),
  • Harriet Bergman (UvA student and spokeswoman for De Nieuwe Universiteit movement),
  • Teun Dominicus (UvA political science student and opinion piece writer).

As it is essential to illuminate arguments and opinions on both sides of the debate, these guest speakers were a perfect fit for the occasion. The latter two speakers have a background in critically questioning UvA policies and its Executive Board. The former two speakers represent the counter-movement that was lacking for a long time, starting with a petition in favour of the Executive Board and its decisions.

Demonstrations and legitimacy

The night started off with a brief introduction into the developments regarding the University of Amsterdam and its priorities, the Maagdenhuis situation and other forms of past demonstrations. The following debate discussed the occupations and surrounding movements (such as ReThink, DNU) itself, but also the bigger picture. What are many students and academics demanding from those who run the university? What has changed over the past year(s)? Are their demands taken seriously, and are they even feasible? If so, what should be done differently in the future?

Theses discussed included:

  • At the UvA, rector magnificus Dymph van den Boom issued a warning about the many pitfalls more participation and democracy within academia brings along. Is this a legitimate fear?
  • The participation in protest and pro-reform activities varies strongly per faculty. What do you think this variation could be attributed to, and is this meaningful?

  • When is action, civil disobedience, violence and/or vandalism actually legitimate? When, if ever, does one have the right to stage an occupation?

Guest speakers answered students’ questions at the subsequent ‘borrel’ and enjoyed themselves as much as their audience did.

Similar events

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Published by  PPLE