Groningen student sit-in ends after 9 hours; Improvements promised
The occupation of the Academy Building in Groningen ended after nine hours, said a spokesperson for action group Shelter Our Students. "We are out," said he spokesperson after hours of consultation with the municipality of Groningen and the University of Groningen. With the occupation, the activists wanted to force more housing for students in the city.
"They have come a long way to meet our demands," said the organizer of the action. Sufficient, affordable emergency shelter will be provided in the city for students who currently do not have a home. "So that everyone who needs it now can get a roof over their head." The price for this emergency shelter, which involves camp beds in sleeping halls, will decrease from 9 to 6 euros per day. There was also the promise to "be honest" about the housing shortage to prospective students in the coming years. "We all now have students on the phone who didn't expect this and didn't see it coming with the information they had," said the spokesperson about the homeless students his organization is helping find shelter.
Shelter Our Students also negotiated for temporary housing on the Zernike campus. The aim is that 1,500 student units will be built there by 2025. Thursday night's deal should bridge that time. The temporary living quarters, the number of which is still unknown, will also be used for emergency shelter.
A statement will also be issued from the university and the municipality, in which the causes of the housing problems are identified and which describes what needs to be done. The statement calls Shelter Our Students "a recognition that we as a city can no longer handle this," said the spokesperson. "We don't have the options to solve this ourselves as a city."
About 75 to 100 students occupied the Academy Building since 12:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon after a protest march from the Grote Markt in Groningen. They said that there is not enough housing, especially for international students. They refused to leave the building until the demand for more housing was met. Around 9:30 p.m. the activists left, together with alderman Roeland van der Schaaf (PvdA, housing) and Hans Biemans from the university's executive board. The action group said that it left voluntarily and of its own accord after a "calm, peaceful occupation" of the Academy Building.
Reporting by ANP