A New Voice in the Times of Rona
A New Voice in the Times of Rona
Ezekiel Stevens – KAN
Michael Keith – Upon meeting Ezekiel Stevens, a second-year physics student from Ireland, it’s clear that he is a man of action. Blessed with the same trait as so many from the Emerald Isle, he speaks at a million miles a minute and it’s often that I cannot keep up. His ideas come thick and fast too, keeping me on my toes during the course of our interview. This year he is campaigning as the number-one-candidate-on-the-ballot for the University Elections and, as I was left in no doubt after our meeting, he has many plans if he is to secure his seat.
Mr Stevens, as a founding member of KAN, has worked in the arena from the beginning. In his first year at UM he co-founded the Maastricht chapter of Precious Plastics, a global open source initiative that allows for the small-scale creation of new products from recyclable plastic. Quickly after arriving on the scene, he secured funding for his project and gathered a large team around him in order to make the dream come true. Up until the time of COVID-19 his team had built one machine (with two more in the works), organised a sustainability festival, put together corporate sustainability events, and has set up a collaboration with local organisation Het Werkhuis to take the plastics machinery system a step further. Clearly this was all not enough for the lanky Irishman, as he has now decided to up the ante and form a student political party.
The Klimaat Actie Netwerk (KAN) is an amalgamation of environmentalist groups from Maastricht and the surrounding region, comprised of both students and locals. After all, the climate emergency is something that affects us all. But, as with many grassroots movements around the world, there has been no one banner under which to unite. And so, as of March 2019, activists in Maastricht met up to do something about it. KAN was born.
A keen sportsman, former race rower for the Saurus student association and burgeoning cycling enthusiast, Stevens is used to moving quickly and his enthusiasm for the KAN agenda is clear from the outset. While the KAN party stands on five pillars, Stevens as a candidate has his own additional agenda that he believes sets him apart as a candidate on the ballot. First and foremost is his desire to change the culture of student politics at UM, where he sees an inefficient system that amounts to little. The scale of his vision became clear when he made the comparison between Maastricht and Oxford University, where the student body initiated the university divestment of fossil fuels – a highly contentious issue familiar to pension funds the world over. Oxford University, in April of this year, created a model to follow in the academic world with this announcement. Here in Limburg, student councils are still arguing over the recording of lectures and this is a point that clearly frustrates the environmentally conscious Irishman. Further, Mr Stevens and his party are aiming to not only push but work with UM on the sustainable development goals, as currently there is basically no system in place, it’s a mess really. Stevens and KAN believe that they are well placed and well informed enough to get the ball rolling on this initiative, along with many others, and this is what sets them apart, as a newcomer to the scene, from the traditional student parties in UM. A full list of the pillars and their 2020 election manifesto can be found at climatenetwork.nl, as well as via their social media accounts.
With so much of the world in turmoil, the importance of democracy and support for the people has never been clearer. Here in the Netherlands, we can count ourselves fortunate that we are able to live in a system that is counted as open and fair, something that should not be forgotten. While this may sound a little heavy handed, the process begins at a local level and as a student, our voices deserve to be heard. University and faculty elections are 25-28 May and more information can be found on the official university website elections.maastrichtuniversity.nl.