With costumes, candy and all things creepy, this week marked the end of the much enjoyable Halloween festivities, a good release from the last few weeks of exam stress, and the beginning of the last work-filled stretch before Christmas. This week also gave attention to more pressing events, namely an outcry from students in the form of a protest on Monday. A more than necessary response to the current student housing crisis that has swept not only our student city of Maastricht, but the Netherlands as a whole.
Having been able to contact a representative from Student Housing Now, a group of activists striving for equal and accessible student housing for all, more insight and knowledge was gained on the severity of the crisis and its impact on students as well as the actions taken to bring awareness to the problem. An example being the protest that was organized this week.
The current lack of student housing is not a recent phenomenon; no, it is one that has been in the making for years and stems from a multitude of factors such as incompetent housing policies, the want for private profit over the interest of not just students but those without homes in general. The recent pandemic is also something that has made an already challenging issue even more so as the competition for housing increases with not only the addition of new students, but students who had previously remained at home but are now moving to Maastricht as everything is slowly moving on site again. And, with the academic year starting in February for some, the whole thing only intensifies as another flood of students looks for housing in addition to the many who are already homeless.
Not only does this create suboptimal study and living conditions for students who might already be dealing with other factors such as homesickness or academic stress, it also makes them more vulnerable to scams and unreliable landlords seeking to take advantage.
A problem of this magnitude you would think would warrant the help of the university, alas it seems the university was not and still is not ready to tackle this problem, which is what leads organizations such as Student Housing Now to take to the streets, hoping that their concerns will be heard and taken seriously.
The march started from the Markt and continued around the city centre as students begged for the comfort of simple accommodation. With the aim to not just play the blame game but to put pressure on the municipality, policy makers and the university; it was important the crisis was conveyed as just not a problem a handful of students have to deal with, but an abundance of students which is why a protest was ideal. Similar efforts have proven to be successful in other student cities such as Groningen, and so we can be hopeful that Maastricht can soon be a success story as well.
The group is made up of students who are either personally affected by the crisis, have friends or family affected by the situation or those who are just concerned. The group continues to grow as the demand intensifies and they hope to attract more people to join them and their initiative as they hope to find a solution to this growing problem as soon as possible. Feel free to find them on social media with the name Student Housing Now and find out how you can be a part of this movement.