Students are not giving up on De Vagant just yet

Kan de Vagant wat langer open blijven? Foto: DUB

Earlier this year, ten study associations of studies in the Science and Geosciences faculties asked to be allowed to keep De Vagant. In a letter they sent to the university board, they offered to take over the management of the canteen. The associations say that De Vagant has quickly become a very popular place.

Shortly after summer break, the study associations were notified that it’s not possible to keep De Vagant open. The board says it doesn’t have the right permits. But the students aren’t giving up.

The study associations have since found an ally in students’ associations representing the students in co-determination of four large Science programs. Nils Warsen, spokesperson for the Student’s Association for Physics and Astronomy (SONS) says De Vagant isn’t just important for the study associations, but for all students, the study programs, and their staff members. “During the intro week, De Vagant was a great home base. The building truly contributes to the sense of community.”

Last week, the university board received a letter of the students’ associations. They’re requesting to at least delay the demolition of De Vagant, planned in December, by at least half a year. The permits are said to allow this; the students say they’re valid until mid-2018. Half a year’s delay would create breathing room that will allow students and university board to discuss alternatives for De Vagant.

Students would prefer to keep De Vagant until that alternative location actually exists. They’re urging the university board to ask the city council for an extension of the permits. The authors of the letter are hoping for a new location somewhere near their classrooms in the Minnaert and Koningsberger buildings. This could be included in the new 2020 zoning plan.

The students say they’re optimistic about the willingness of the board to consider their requests. According to the students, the board members have shown to be sympathetic to their plights for a home base for the students.

There are also worries, the letter shows. The students have also received ‘signals’ stating that the university wants to get rid of De Vagant as soon as possible. The simple wooden structure is said not to fit ‘in the aesthetic vision’ of the Executive Board. Students should, initially, find a place in the renovated Minnaert building, which will reopen for classes early next year.

The students claim De Vagant has advantages the Minnaert building lacks. The shack is located in a central position between the education buildings and is surrounded by fields that are perfect for activities. It’s also separated from other buildings, which means it’s not necessary to ask permission and get a receptionist in case students want to organize something during evenings or weekends.

During the Science faculty council meeting, dean Gerrit van Meer was asked for his opinion. He said he’ll support the students wherever possible. “I’m a fan of De Vagant.” The intended demolition of De Vagant has already been delayed by several weeks so Van Meer can hold his going away party in December.

Nils Warsen finds hope in Van Meer’s words. “The closure has been delayed for the dean’s goodbye party. Apparently, the planning isn’t entirely rigid, then.”

Student union Vidius voices its support for the students in a press release. Vidius says the “popular and lively location is a great meeting place for students, and contributes to the cohesion of students from separate study programs.”

The issue was discussed in the U-Raad meeting this Monday. UU-president Anton Pijpers said that the Board will react before the end of November. The Board agrees that there is a need for an informal meeting place for students and employees, but according to him it is difficult to extend the licence, specially because the reconstruction of the Minnaert Building has been finished.