Student - January 11, 2007

Should the university subsidise mensas?

The three mensas in Wageningen will be looked at carefully this year, as the contract under which Wageningen UR subsidises the running costs at KSV, SSR-W and Unitas expires in 2009. But is it the responsibility of the university to spend money on cheap hot meals for students? Or is it an outdated tradition?

Amrish Baidjoe, Student Council member for PSF: ‘It is important that students can eat quickly and cheaply. If you’ve been studying hard all day and need to continue in the evening, it’s good to be able to eat quickly and easily. A contribution from the university keeps the meal affordable. Without a subsidy the meal becomes less attractive. In addition, a contribution from the university makes the facility a structural feature that is less likely to disappear: the student associations hire people especially for the mensa. Eating in the mensa is a way of meeting people, which makes for a good social climate. And it’s important that students can eat in town. When everything moves to De Born, the town centre mustn’t become dead. I don’t eat that often at the mensa myself. I'm out a lot so I eat at home as a way of seeing my housemates. But every so often I have a meeting at Unitas, and then it’s easy to eat there as well.’ Marije Boerhof, first-year Master’s student, International Development Studies: ‘I often eat at the mensa when we have a revision week before exams. It saves time: you don’t have to cook or wash up. It’s also good to eat with others who have also been studying the whole day. I’m glad that the university spends money on the mensas: as a student I benefit from this. I think it’s a good thing that money goes to the student associations. If you consider what you’ve learned by the time you graduate, it’s not just about the course you have done. And education doesn’t suffer from the mensas being subsidised either.’ Sidney Gijzen, first-year’s Master’s student, Geo-information Science: ‘I have no idea what a mensa is; I’ve never been to one. During the introduction week I was at the Lowlands pop festival. Before coming here I was at Larenstein in Velp and I learned to cook for myself every day. Now I live on a student corridor. I had to get used to it, but it’s great. Sometimes I eat with the rest of my corridor-mates, but I’m often out in the evenings so I cook for myself regularly. If I’m short for time I’m more likely to eat with them than go to a mensa. But I think it’s a good thing that the university subsidises the mensas. Just because I don’t use them doesn’t mean that others don’t. Money also goes to sport, even though not everyone takes part.’ /Yvonne de Hilster What do you think about the mensas? Let us know at

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