Introducing The Stand Off: The Stand’s First Live Broadcast!

Welcome!

We came back from our hiatus with a brand new journalistic endeavour: radio. The last few weeks we, the 18 journalists in training at the University of Groningen, have worked very hard to put together our first ever live radio production. 

We, critical journalism students, have broadcasted an hour long show with the aim to challenge your perspectives during this festive period.

We discussed big topics such as the power of investigative journalists who were just coined the TIME’s person of the year, the future of journalism, and media representation. To lighten the mood we also presented stories on love, Christmas, and the everlasting banter between our two pairs of hosts. 

It aired on Thursday the 20th of December at 2pm CET!

This show has been fully written and produced by students. The Stand Off had a team of 18 young students working around the clock. This show was created, curated and edited by William MacMaster and Hannah van der Wurff, the editors of the show. The first dynamic presenter duo consists of Valerie Scholtz and Benjie Beer and the second duo of Frank Verschuren and Anne de Vries. The two ladies running the studio are Annewil Schippers (studio producer) and Dimi Karapanagiotou (studio director). The fantastic foursome that put together the segments specifically produced for the show are Sophie Pizzimenti, Gabriele Cruciata, Natalie Lange and Rebekah Daunt. Out on the streets with a microphone and a million questions were Edward Szekeres, Clemence Waller, Juliane Glahn and Tadhg O’Sullivan, the live reporters. Without our social media team, consisting of Oscar Cheng-Kai, Wu and Yujia Yang, all of you, our listeners, would not have known the show was even happening. 

Enjoy!


Hundreds of Students Still Homeless in Groningen

By Rebekah Daunt

In September 2018, the Democratische Academie Groningen (DAG), a critical student movement which strives for the profound democratization of the University of Groningen, calculated that 500 international students were still without homes in the first week of the academic year.

“The city of Groningen cannot handle the number of students attending university, the housing market is not ready for this.” said Koen Marée (24) a spokesperson for the DAG.

According to law, Dutch universities are under no obligation to provide housing for students, but The RUG encourages students to start searching for accommodation as early as April each year.

However, despite beginning their research in good time, many students found it extremely difficult to secure accommodation from overseas. “I arrived in Groningen last Thursday, but I have been searching for a room since mid-June” said Camélia Barbachi (20), an International Business and Management student.

Like so many others, Miss Barbachi has spent months contacting agencies and independent landlords advertising rooms on Facebook without success. “I really hope to find accommodation soon, otherwise… well, I don’t want to think about what might happen” said Miss Barbachi.

There are approximately 50,000 students studying at the University of Groningen and Hanze University combined. According to the briefing notes from the University Council meeting on the 28th of June 2018, the University of Groningen (RUG) will continue to raise the head count with an average of 800 students per year resulting in a grand total of 35,000 students by 2025.

RUG’s competitive ratings have been evaluated across a set of impressive standards. According to the World University Ranking website, these standards include teaching, research, international outlook and reputation.

Reporting for UKRANT magazine, Gijs Altena outlines how an increase in the number of international students at RUG will benefit the university’s growth, financial position, and higher education rankings.

Marée, who is also a Freelance journalist for Dagblad van het Noorden, believes that the housing crisis is due to overpopulation and bad planning.

UKRANT magazine has specified that the DAG, along with a number of other student organisations have been trying to raise awareness of the great need for student housing and the unbridled growth the university is experiencing.

The DAG Couch Surfing Initiative connected 130 students to a couch or a spare bed in the first week of September. This initiative strives to provide safe and homely temporary solutions for students without the price tag.

This is not the first time there has been a housing crisis in Groningen. Hundreds of students also struggled to find accommodation in 2017.

This year the university assured students that new rooms would be made available and uploaded to the new housing module, At Home in Groningen, in due course.

However, this initiate was not launched until July, and by the middle of August, when students were arriving in Groningen, only 320 rooms had been listed.

The Suikerlaan Container Project is another university led initiative. These purposely built containers were made available to students a batch at a time. Students had permission to reserve these containers upon signing a contract, agreeing to a rental fee of 500 euro per month. These containers have yet to be completed.

A Delayed start in the Suikerlaan Student Container Project means that students who have already paid their deposit and first month’s rent, must find alternative accommodation until the 15th of October 2018.

“I am lucky to have finally secured a container” said Karl, a German Erasmus Student dining at the Feel Good cafe in Groningen this afternoon. “This container will not be ready until mid October, so in the meantime I am grateful to be sleeping on my friend’s couch”.

Jorien Bakker, a spokesperson for the university, acknowledges the overwhelming demand for student housing but believes that the university warned international students in good time.

“Efforts made by the DAG are making the situation better” concluded Marée, “I never want to see a student sleeping on the street but this is not our responsibility”.


 

Divide Between Dutch and International Students?

By Sophie Pizzimenti

 

The academic year has started, and Groningen University is welcoming thousands of international students who have mixed feelings towards blending into Dutch society and integrating with their fellow students.

A debate was sparked last year from the publication of the UKrant article “When Dutch ‘directness’ hurts” by Megan Embry, in which she discussed discrimination received by internationals from local students. The article highlighted the divided views of students regarding the relationship between the two groups.

Interviewing Dutch and internationals at the RUG campus regarding the topic of discrimination and how they feel about their relationship with their classmates, different opinions came out.

Sitting outside the library, speaking Spanish among themselves, bachelor students Xenia Ramos and Carla Heterington said that, not only do they not feel welcomed, they feel highly excluded by the Dutch students.

“I think it is difficult if you are international student here in your first week because Dutch people are very close to each other and they don’t welcome other people. She is my friend and I am glad I know her because, if not, you really have to find another international student,” said Carla, who has just arrived and is in her first year of her bachelor.

Xenia and Carla also addressed the issue of discrimination, saying they did receive comments about their identity as Spanish which made them feel uncomfortable among their fellow Dutch students.

When confronted with the topic, a few Dutch students highlighted the tendency of Dutch and internationals to stay among their respective groups, resulting in a strong division.

Dutch student M.M.* studying international law, said: “There is a huge gap between a Dutch student here and internationals. We experience it ourselves, because in the first year and second year for our bachelor we were put in a class with international students and there was a huge gap, because all the international students knew each other, and we [Dutch students] were there thinking ‘what to do?’; and you kind of isolate yourself then.”

Similarly, Dutch student Lianne Pit, studying for a Masters in German Education, said she believes the interaction is limited as knowing the Dutch people in her class leads her to stick with them.

Most of the students indicated language as the main cause of the divide.

Tjitske Kommerie, a Dutch student studying with Lianne, said “it can be hard, especially when your English isn’t that good or when you are nervous about speaking in English because you think it’s not good enough to make yourself understandable.”

Wouter Baas, a Dutch student from the same course, is also bothered by the necessity of using English with internationals as they do not learn Dutch. “My opinion is that, when you come here to study you also have to show some interest in the country you are moving to. Not a lot of international students do this, learning the language and not stay in their international bubble and not expecting everybody to speak in English,” he said.

Lianne Pit, Wouter Baas, Tjitske Kommerie and Niklas Kingman

Arno Hegedus, a Hungarian student of International Law, hopes to be able to create long lasting friendships with Dutch students and to connect with their culture.

However, on this matter Wouter Baas replied, “These kind of relations can only exist if you can master the language very well. We talk now in a very formal way […] but if you talk about personal feelings and so on, it’s very difficult, for me at least, to do this in English.”

Arno Hegedus and Ife Bolaji, a fellow classmate from Nigeria, believe this division could be reduced if international students were given more chances to learn Dutch. “Language is the way to someone’s heart,” concluded Bolaji.


*Chooses to remain anonymous