Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
27 February 2024

Column
& Blog

USR / USC Universitaire Studentenraad / University Student Council

The importance of free discussion on-campus

Last year, in the Netherlands, strong, organised student protests led to the government reforming the student loan system to a version of pre-2015. To this day, regular protests regarding housing are held frequently to draw attention to the ongoing housing crisis in the Netherlands. More famously, in the 70’s, students led the anti-war movement in America against the draft and the Vietnam war.

Universities are often the centrepoint of tough conversations as they play a critical role in informing the rest of society through the results of those tough conversations. Yet, nowadays, it seems impossible to have a discussion. Israel-Palestine just shows to what extent that is.
I study Political Science, and I’ve been elected twice for the University Student Council, and at least for me, tough conversations make up the majority of my life. Yet, at times even I feel completely at a loss as to how to bring up a topic which touches the lives of so many people around me and around others.

That’s why we need to have more discussion on campus. For many, discussing the issue in a space which gives space for everyone is how we, as a group regardless of stance or view, move on in a society. For others, it’s how we educate ourselves about a conflict with a long, complex history with many different players over the space of more than a thousand years. For the rest, it gives individuals a space to voice their opinions and recognize their wrongs and convince others of the ways in which they are right.

But of course, we need safeguards. There is no room at this university for anti-semitism, nor is there room for Islamophobia. VU Amsterdam must be a community which accepts everyone for who they are, and one that does not discriminate. But conversations must be had, and the recent protests at our university show this.
I truly believe that we can finally have a mature conversation about this topic. Together, we absolutely must build a community that values diverse perspectives and promotes open discussions.

There is no room at this university for anti-semitism, nor is there room for Islamophobia

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