On Monday 10 November the judge communicated to the student squatters of the Spinhuis that he would not be deciding in favour of the University, seeing as there is insufficient grounds for an eviction. This is the legal first victory for the Spinhuis Collective. On 7 September the students occupied the common room of the Spinhuis building (University of Amsterdam, UvA). They are squatting it in protest against the hierarchical structures in place at the university. Instead of engaging in a substantial dialogue with its own students, the UvA board of directors decided to take them to court.
After a long legal process the judge has decided that the University’s request for an eviction permit is not admissible. The evidence presented by the UvA was found to be insufficient, and the Spinhuis Collective had addressed and refuted every point of the UvA’s case. The judge has recognised that the squatters are engaged in a political action. In his decision he states that the action can correctly be considered as an act of civil disobedience, i.e. ‘a protest against an existing situation that does not further one’s own interest but pursues a social/political aim.’ ‘This means that the UvA must tolerate an action of this kind.’
The judge gave the UvA another opportunity to defend their claim that their interest in the building is urgent enough to justify an eviction process. Their new deadline to provide the new information is 15 December. Once the university has handed in additional documents the Spinhuis Collective will be given seven days to respond. And after that, the judge will take another week to issue a final verdict. This gives the students another three weeks to stay in the building. ‘It’s great to see how students can stand up against the neoliberal mismanagement of the university, where financial issues have come to take precedence over the academic community. Direct action works! Squat the entire university!’ proposes student council member Ruud van der Veen.
The students’ calendar for the near future is already filled with interesting events, much like it has been for the last months; their upcoming programme shows diverse events and activities are being organised every night. That is also something that the judge took into account; these activities can clearly be considered to be ‘in the general interest’. The Spinhuis Collective is delighted that these activities can take place as scheduled. But they also state that they would have stuck to their plans even if the judge’s decision had been negative. The Collective states that they will not stop until genuine changes are introduced in the way the university works, and until students and lecturers gain complete control over their own university.