Press release: Students leave the Spinhuis under pressure from the university [translation of press-release 30 December]

The Spinhuis Collective announced that they are leaving the occupied Spinhuis building this Friday. They will be handing the University of Amsterdam the key at 3 pm that same day. Last Monday the court deemed that the UvA does have an urgent need to evict the premises. The UvA had threatened with heavy fines if the collective failed to cooperate with their plans to put back the building to use. This leaves the students no alternative but to stop their protest for the time being.

Since the Spinhuis was squatted last September, the university has repeatedly tried to kick the students out of the building. In October the university sued the individuals who had filed a request for public access to government information (Wob-verzoek) about the Spinhuis. The UvA claimed an exorbitant compensation fee of 100,000 euro per student for every day they were present in the building. This was a clear sign that the UvA were not ready to comply with the Wob request for information. Such refusal was, according to the students, the biggest hindrance to any semblance of a constructive dialogue.

“It’s happening all around us!” First in the Science Park -a joint venture of the Free University (VU) and the UvA-, then with the funding cuts to humanities, and now the VU is also aggressively cutting corners, without ever giving students or professors any voice in these matters. Instead, big spending seems to be justified whenever complaints are raised: they sent us security guards with dogs, which cost hundreds of thousands of euros. With that money you can easily pay two full studies at the faculty of humanities,” says Ruud van der Veen, a member of the student council. The way the university throttles any kind of criticism is what the students set out to protest in the first place. And that type of governance is being reflected very clearly in the University’s response. Top-down management, participation deficit, fetishism of performance targets; the university is being run as a corporation and is increasingly an extension of the business sector.

In contrast, the students have witnessed in the past months how much a blossoming academic community can do for a university. There is a clear need for spaces that students can self-manage and where they can organise themselves. From debates with MPs to a workshop on psychogeography, through a regular cult-film cinema and a feminist poetry evening, we have participated in all sorts of things. One thing is clear: the rector can be proud that they have made us into much more efficient rebels,” ironizes Van der Veen.

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