Student life

Does the VSSD still have a future?

The VSSD is searching for a new reason for being. Now the bookshop and publisher closed and the number of active members shrinks, the students union wants to campaign again.

The VSSD shop in the wind tunnel building at the Leeghwaterstraat. (Photo: Rob van der Wal).

“We have been much too nice,” says Nathan Roos, Board Member of the Vereniging Studie- en Studentenbelangen Delft (advocacy group for study and students, VSSD). “Take TU Delft’s plans to grow to 40,000 students, for example. TU Delft has space on campus to house these students, but they want to keep that space for companies. I would say build a big student complex and relieve the problems that are already there. The VSSD had already suggested this, but nothing was done.”

To draw attention to this, the VSSD intends to campaign again, says Roos. He is one of the two members of the interim VSSD Board. Interim because the handover from the previous Board has not yet been done for various reasons. “This year we intend to join campaigns by the national students union (the LSVb, Eds.), such as its pechprotest.”

The VSSD was known for its controversial but amusing protests. They once even put TU Delft up for sale (in Dutch). This was to protest against cutbacks in student grants and the public transport chip card. VSSD’s idea was that if the plans go ahead, there would be no new engineers anymore and TU Delft’s buildings could go up for sale. A year later the VSSD came up with an alternative connection (in Dutch) between the station and the campus with buses and even a limousine. Here too the reason was the possible ending of the public transport card

New actions are badly needed, says Roos. Now that the VSSD shop in the wind tunnel building, the Delft Academic Press publisher, and the DA-SH bookshop have closed because of financial issues, the VSSD needs a new reason for being. “With 2,500 members, the number is not as high as in the period of the sensational protests, when almost every student was a member.”

‘We need engaged members’

When these activities were stopped, the Board had already anticipated a reduction in the number of paying members (EUR 11 per year). To save money, the rent of the empty shop space in the VSSD building was terminated. Whether the rent of the Board area behind it will also be terminated is as yet unknown. There may also be a residual debt as both DA-SH and the publisher were loss making. The Board does not yet know this for certain.

The biggest challenge is the engagement of students in the VSSD, says Roos. “We have a few dozen active students and receive emails about personal issues, such as problems with landlords, once in a while. We can help them of course, but we want more. We want the committees that work on educational practices to get a new lease of life, for example. They work on issues such as arranging more time between exams or helping out if teachers do not work well with teaching assistants. But we need engaged members for this.”

In any case, Roos believes that campaigning will be a good thing. “We can take a more activist position than the bodies that are really part of TU Delft. The university administration knows that we can simply walk away from negotiations that we are invited to. We can afford to incur problems.”

Science editor Rob van der Wal

Do you have a question or comment about this article?

Comments are closed.