Student - March 14, 2013

Green as grass

The WEP (Wageningen Environmental Platform) is busy starting up a new green party. At last there will be a choice of parties on the student council. Hence our proposition for this issue: a green party is just what we need!
text: Nicolette Meerstadt & Roelof Kleis

Matthijs Kolpa (WEP)
MSc student of Forest and Nature Management, initiator of the new party
'Of course I agree. For me a party of this kind is the missing link for pushing Wageningen University further towards sustainability. Not that we are doing badly when it comes to sustainability. I would give us eight out of ten, mainly because we are heading in the right direction. But we are not there yet. There are lots of green clubs: GOW, Share, RUW, Otherwise and the WEP. A green party is the last step needed to be able to generate more sustainability from the student council. You cannot look at every topic from a sustainability angle, but you can do so for a lot of topics. Not that I see us as a one-issue party. The green element is the basis but it will probably be a progressive party. Yes, it will be quite a lot like GroenLinks [the Dutch green left party].'
Peter Veldman
Sixth year student of Consumer Science and liberal party D66 council member in Wageningen
'I think it's good to have a second party. It means that there really is a choice, which is good for democracy. Other issues will be raised in debates than those that are important to VeSte. But as far as I'm concerned it doesn't have to be a green party. I hope it will have a broader support base than just the WEP. They should avoid comparing themselves with GroenLinks. For that reason, the word 'green' should not be in the name. It is good to pay more attention to sustainability but I would say: keep the main issues in mind and don't present yourselves as too sustainability-minded. The PSF wasn't all that popular. What should the new party start with? Making sustainability visible. The university should make what it is doing in this area much more visible.'
Jouke Dykstra
Ex-board member of the Wageningen student union WSO
'For a start a new party is urgently needed on the student council. It will ensure better discussions on the council and make parties think through their standpoints during elections. That will sharpen them up. What is more, many students obviously do not feel represented by VeSte, so there is a need for a new voice. I am not sure whether a green party is the answer, though. There has to be a certain level of dissatisfaction among students before you can mobilize them. Right now there is a big group of students who are dissatisfied with Wageningen UR's sustainability policy. Personally I see more future in a party for international students, because they are not directly represented. What is more, that kind of party can have a direct link with established societies such as ISOW and IxESN, which would guarantee the continuity of the party. A green party does not have a broad support base, and that is risky in the long run.'

Robin Smale
Green Office Wageningen, fourth year student of Environmental Sciences
'I think it is important to get students more involved in pursuing the sustainability agenda. For VeSte sustainability is just one of many points they consider. And the Green Office, which I am in, gives feedback but mainly just implements policy. As a university we have not been doing badly over the past three years. I would give us eight out of ten. But it needs to become more visible. Something that could be improved is the application of in-house knowledge on sustainability on the campus. Experiments, trials... these sorts of things are tremendously inspiring. But there is little of that to be seen on the campus. The new party should be a broad-based sustainability party. Social and economic sustainability is important too.'

Francy Vennemann
Final year student of Nutrition and Health
'What does the new party want to achieve, actually? I think sustainability is important but that doesn't mean I would vote for them. It strikes me as important that they adopt clear standpoints and position themselves clearly in relation to VeSte. How do they think they will tackle things better?
I have never taken a big interest in the student council
and I don't actually know exactly what VeSte stands for. Only when I have more information about both parties will I be able to form an opinion. In my view there are green issues that the student council really should address. I have no problems in my own day-to-day life at the university. I will graduate soon, so my biggest concern is the job market.'

Christianne Kerkhofs
Member of Veste, the biggest party on the student council
'We at VeSte are very happy to see a new party. At the moment we have nine of the twelve seats on the council. This means we represent all students whereas we would like to focus more on active students. As a party you can't represent everyone, and a new party can choose its own key issues. The sustainability angle is interesting and it fits well with Wageningen ideas. At the same time, we don't want to lose too many seats. I think two would be enough for this party, especially if it's going to be a single-issue party.' 

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