I am sitting down at breakfast in Uganda, Africa, waiting for my flight to Nairobi to depart, and I’m reading up on the discussion surrounding the housing of international students in Groningen. The overarching opinion seems to be that the way international students are accommodated is ridiculous. I find my jaw dropping in astonishment.
Am I a student at the RUG or at Lefier?
I have always been under the impression that the task of the university is academic training. But apparently, when an international student applies to a program here and can’t be bothered to learn how Groningen housing works, the university has to bend over backwards to put a roof over his head. And the best part: Dutch students pay the bill. That seems fair, doesn’t it?
Why all the complaints about the facilities offered to internationals?
Alright, so the university is trying to navigate all the different interests of the parties on the university council, who believe everyone should simply be given whatever they want without considering the international students’ own responsibilities. And these parties deem the sleep-in facilities subpar, so they must be improved, and that’s the end of it.
Besides being unbelievably irritating, this attitude poses a real danger to the development of the academic, critical mindset of these new students. By giving in to the demands of students who (wrongly) expect the university not only to accommodate them, but also to accommodate them comfortably, the RUG creates spoiled students who have no sense of responsibility.
To me, this doesn’t seem like the right attitude for addressing academic and societal challenges. And the student parties’ responses are perhaps even more objectionable. One would expect the crème de la crème of our student community to be familiar with concepts such as responsibility, critical thinking and fairness.
I could go on. What I’m trying to say is: international students are most welcome here, and they enrich our city with their knowledge and their culture. But that doesn’t mean Dutch students should have to pay for their housing. Let us stop distracting the university of its primary task. The RUG is, after all, a university, and not a housing corporation.
Pieter Polhuis was a member of the university council for student party Lijst Sterk during the 2016-2017 academic year