On the steps of the Forum this afternoon, the Wageningen Students’ Organization doled out soup to ‘homeless’ students.
Robert doesn't actually have a room yet and is commuting every day from Leiden, which is a four-hour round trip. At the end of September he hopes to go into a chalet in a park in Bennekom, together with his friend Sander (from Apeldoorn, three hours travelling time).
Not enough showers
Although many Dutch students have to travel up and down from home, the Wageningen Students' Organization (WSO) is getting more complaints from international students temporarily housed in the Hof van Wageningen. 'No internet, no privacy, nowhere to cook, not enough showers, and they are outside too'; WSO chair Karmijn van den Berg sums up the issues. She thinks the solution is more semi-permanent accommodation like the containers at the Haarweg.
Yesterday the Dutch newspaper Het Algemeen Dagblad covered the shortage of rooms in Wageningen, and today De Volkskrant was on the line to the WSO. 'Even though the scale of the problem is bigger in other towns, Wageningen is providing the most striking pictures, what with students at campsites and in hotels', says Karmijn to explain their interest.
The shortage of rooms in Wageningen brings a lot of inconvenience with it too, she explains. 'Wageningen is not exactly a hub of the public transport network. And to add to that, many of our students come from rural areas which are also not very accessible. What is more, the programmes involve a lot of teaching hours and many practicals. Very good of course, but it does mean people are really expected to be at the university five days a week here.'
4.5 hours travelling time
The soup campaign can expect positive reactions. 'I thought that perhaps you could find a room here or something, but it is only a protest', responds Toon (from Eindhoven, 4.5 hours travelling time. He has just started on the Master's in Environmental Sciences. He is making the best of the situation. 'In the train I read a lot of books and papers. When I get home I don't have to do anything else.'