Student organisations to leave Pnyx and move to De Uithof

Foto Google Street View

The boards of the organisations heard the news on Thursday night during the so-called ‘building meeting’ the new boards had with the university. On Thursday night, the university also sent an email to ensure all parties involved were informed.

The fact that the associations would have to leave the building at one point had been announced before. Pnyx has been in an abominable state for a long time, and the list of complaints the organisations had about their home was long.

When recently, it became clear the windows were at risk of falling out and had to be screwed shut, there was no other option left but to leave, according to Marieke de Bakker, head of the Student Affairs department. “The climate in the building, which hadn’t been great to begin with, became even worse. On top of that, finding a quick solution was tricky because the façade is listed as a monumental conservation building. It would become an enormous operation.”

'News still came as a surprise'
The UU has offered the students an alternative home for the next three years, in a building at the Princetonplein in De Uithof. Until recently, that location had housed researchers of the Geosciences faculty. After this group had moved to the new Vening Meinesz bulding, the building was nominated for demolition. De Bakker: “The building offers the same space as Pnyx, and the organisations will be able to do their own thing much more than they’d been able to in the city centre, where neighbours would often complain about disturbances.”

Although most boards had been informed about the Pnyx issues by their predecessors, a small round of questions shows many were still surprised. Falco van Netten of student union Vidius says: “The news wasn’t unexpected, but still came as a surprise. It’s unfortunate to have to leave the building so soon as well. We’re now in talks with our Advisory Council to see how we should handle this.”

Distance to city centre is a problem
For the associations, it seems as if it’s not so much leaving Pnyx that’s the issue, but moving to the Utrecht Science Park. Aiso van Leeuwe of Student Association International Relations (SIB) conveys understanding, but simultaneously fears it’ll be harder for the board to reach its members when it’s housed at a great distance from the locations where the events take place. “Our lectures are always in the city centre. It’s also going to be difficult to have all the equipment we need for the lectures in De Uithof.”

Nora Zwierenberg of AEGEE also mourns having to leave the city centre. “The Pnyx location is ideal. It’s in a central location, and anyone can easily drop by for a meeting, for questions, or for fun. We hope this won’t change when we’re in De Uithof.” Nora is also dreading the future of transporting things, for instance to the Histos boat, where the association organises its drinks. She only sees one advantage: “Perhaps it’ll be good for combatting the ‘board pounds’.”

Single moment for move to Science Park
Marieke de Bakker says it was impossible to find a space in the city centre that could house the student organisations. It’s also unlikely the associations will be able to return to the building at Achter St. Pieter. If the university decides to renovate Pnyx – which as yet isn’t certain – the expensive city centre property would likely be assigned to education and research instead.

The UU will discuss with the Pnyx Committee, which includes a number of large organisations, how the move will work in the coming months. The aim is to achieve a single moment when all the associations will be moving at the same time. The university will provide support for the relocation operation. In addition, associations have been offered the opportunity to help with the design of their new room and the new Pnyx in De Uithof.