News - March 18, 2010

Student at the Town Hall

Peter Veldman (23) is the first student in decades to be elected to Wageningen municipal council. He represents the D66 party, and aims to act as a bridge between students and the city.

Peter Veldman: 'The Nijenoordalle is a major bottleneck.'
Ever been inside a council chamber before?
'Yes, four times. Twice in Wageningen and twice in Rotterdam, where I studied before I came here.'

'That depends on the subject.'

Why do you want to be on the council?
'My interest in politics started young. That is why I chose to study Management in Rotterdam, but I found it too theoretical. Here I am doing Business and Consumer Studies.  I'm in the third year of my Bachelor's. Wageningen is a student town. Students have a big impact on the town, yet there has never been a student on the council. There are a number of things that need changing, and should get more attention.'

Such as?
'Student housing, facilities, and transport connections with the campus. These are things that affect students. There has to be enough student accommodation. There are still waiting lists and after the summer a new batch of students will arrive. Catering on the campus is another issue. Veste wants to run a café on campus. I would like to stand up for that idea.

What is wrong with the Forum café?
'Well, is it a nice place to hang out? No, it's not. Amsterdam and Enschede have a brown café on site. I think that's something to fight for here too.'

And the connections?
'Connections to the town for cyclists are terrible. The Nijenoordallee is a major bottleneck. That really needs looking into. As for the bus route across the campus, I am not in favour of that. It is only a couple of minutes' walk from the bus stop on the Mansholtlaan to the Forum. And that bus is not just there for the students, but for the Tarthorst too. If it stops here, it won't stop there. But I suspect I may have missed the bus on that issue.'

Do you enjoy debating?
'Yes. I have never taken part in a competition or anything like that, but I enjoy discussions. I have just been to a party meeting. Really nice. And people are enthusiastic about my input.'

Isn't it time there was a students' party?
'I have talked about that with our party leader Michiel Uitdehaag. He was shocked at the idea. If all students vote for it, such a party could get four to five seats. That's enough to be a coalition partner. D66 got a lot of student votes, and I have every faith that D66 will stand up for students. But if that doesn't happen enough over the next four years, a student party could still be formed. It is an interesting idea, and one that does have some support. So who knows?'