” I write you from the Maagdenhuis: occupied and under way”. Can a revolution start over pancakes?

In the past couple of weeks Amsterdam has been the theatre of one of the most intense and breath taking protests which have been happening in the Netherlands in the past few years. As a matter of fact, a surprisingly long lasting “arm-wrestling” competition has been happening between the management board of the UVA university and its students and professors.

There have been various reasons which have triggered the start of the protest but the main one, at least according to the protesters, has been the lack of democratic transparency in the actions taken by the UVA while handling budget cuts and resource management.

UVA has been under pressure to enact drastic cuts, due to the huge debt in which the university is at the moment. One of the consequences of UVA’s financial situation has been to cut down drastically the funds to the humanities department. Measure which has, of course, not been taken really well from the students and the staff.

Moreover, what the protesters mainly complain about, is the fact that UVA has been neglecting completely the possibility of any sort of dialogue with the staff and the students on how to handle the budget cuts.

The situation was already particularly tense. However, an initiative from UVA in particular, might have been the cause (and inspiration) for the students to occupy the Bungehuis building: the eviction of the Spinhuis.

Spinhuis was an unused building owned by UVA which had been occupied by squatters and largely utilized by students as well.

The eviction of the building ultimately enraged the students which considered it an important place to meet up. Consequently, the group of the Bungehuis occupation actually started to form. The students mainly got the idea to occupy from the Squatters experience (even if the occupation was exclusively initiated by students), and quickly started to organize the occupation.

I was able to interview a student which actively took part in planning the Bungehuis occupation and that is currently taking part in the Maagdenhuis protest as well. The student wanted to maintain his anonymity. Therefore, he shared his story with me under the nickname of “number 10”. His story was particularly interesting due to the great obstacle which was placed between him and his commitment towards the protest and occupation: the fact of being a non European student.

I got in contact with number 10. When he answered to my questions I wrote him online ( we could not actually meet personally due to the Maagdenhuis immediate turn-out of events) this is what he texted me: ” I write to you from the Maagdenhuis: occupied and under way.”

Number 10 has been involved in the protest since almost the beginning. He actively took part in planning the occupation.

Quite ironically, this is how he described how the planning of him, and his fellow protesters started: ” We never explicitly talked about planning a form of direct action until January. Where I was invited to take part in a meeting discussing a possible mode of direct action. We met with a group of 21, made and ate pancakes and then planned to occupy the Bungehuis. Although I unfortunately did not get the pleasure of actually occupying.”

Indeed, even if number 10 has been planning the occupation and helping the occupiers throughout their staying he was unable to directly, and intensively, take part to the occupation himself. Due to the higher risk of (if taken under arrest) having his permit taken away and become unable to keep on studying at UVA. Number 10 definitely felt that the higher risk he was going through while protesting had quite an impact on his experience: ” due to the fact I was not an E.U resident and other complicated matters I could not occupy. The decision was a hard one to make, since I was involved somewhat in the planning and this issue was close to my heart, I really wanted to occupy. It was a classic case of reason versus emotions, and I am not too sure whether reason prevailing was a good thing- because the people who did occupy had a beautiful experience that few get to experience. I nonetheless devoted as much time as I could to support them.. And showing solidarity in that manner was just as powerful for me.”

I tried to find out what he meant by powerful and the answer which he gave me, allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the incredible “bust” which has been taking place during (and after) the Bungehuis occupation: ”  The occupation sparked something much bigger than anyone anticipated! There was a protest of 1,700 people on Wednesday in the streets of Amsterdam supporting the occupation and the demands for a more democratic university! The support has been overwhelming, now with the occupation of the Maagdenhuis its a clear sign that these issues are serious and the resolve shown by the students to solve these issues is strong, and lets not forget this was a peaceful protest that is not ending yet”.

The feeling which number 10 has towards the protest is undoubtedly strong and passionate, even considering the additional danger which he goes through due to the possibility of his permit being taken away, and many more students share the same resolve. Visiting the Magdeenhuis I have been asking questions to many people and they all seem to share the conviction that if the momentum keeps on going big concessions will have to be given and overall big changes within and outside the university are about to happen.

There is no actual certainty to what the turnouts of the events will be like, also because of the mutual inability of each side to properly communicate with the other, but surely the turnout of events (with the immediate occupation of the Maagdenhuis) has left everyone surprised both on the protesters side and on the UVA one. The momentum might end at any time that is certain, but it surely seems quite vivid and powerful right now.

                                                                                                                               Luca Lomonaco

4 pensieri su “” I write you from the Maagdenhuis: occupied and under way”. Can a revolution start over pancakes?

  1. sources/notes:

    interview with number 10:

    “How did you get to know (through who, within or out of uni) about the issues concerning UVA and how did you get to know/got involved with the protest (and occupation)?”

    “I write to you from the maagdenhuis: occupied and under way.
    There is a lot of discontent from UvA students and AUC students regarding how the university is run. I have quite a few friends that study at UvA and quite a few students from UvA who are involved in the various activist activities that I have participated in Amsterdam. When we would meet, we would discuss mostly political issues, but the topic of the corporate university was never far from our thoughts- naturally because we are students ourselves. We never explicitly talked about planning a form of direct action until January. Where I was invited to take part in a meeting discussing a possible mode of direct action. We met with a group of 21, made and ate pancakes and then planned to occupy the bungehuis. Although I unfortunately did not get the pleasure of actually occupying”

    “How did the fact of being non-dutch (and consequently risking more) played a role in your participation/ attitude towards the occupation?”

    “Due to the fact I was not an E.U resident and other complicated matters I could not occupy. The decision was a hard one to make, since I was involved somewhat in the planning and this issue was close to my heart, I really wanted to occupy. It was a classic case of reason vs emotions, and Im not too sure whether reason prevailing was a good thing- because the people who did occupy had a beautiful experience that few get to experience. I nonetheless devoted as much time as I could to support them.. and showing solidarity in that manner was just as powerful for me. Precisely because the occupation sparked something much bigger than anyone anticipated! There was a protest of 1,700 people on wednesday in the streets of amsterdam supporting the occupation and the demands for a more democratic university! The support has been overwhelming, now with the occupation of the maagdenhuis its a clear sign that these issues are serious and the resolve shown by the students to solve these issues is strong, so strong that the mayor of amsterdam had to intervene in classic political theater last night to try and misrepresent the student movement- a cheap trick that did not work. Now lectures and programs are happening at the maagdenhuis and lets not forget this was a peaceful constructive protest that is not ending yet.”

    “After the development of the latest events (the arrest of multiple students and the ongoing petition) what do you think that the turn out of the situation might be?
    be as honest and personal as you can I am interested in your experience and in the way that you experienced it as an individual, I can do a summary of the events myself) “.

    “Its difficult to state what direction the movement will take. Its clear the board is under pressure, furthermore with the constant media attention its not good PR. Therefore they have to do something and soon! The have offered cheap concessions that the students will not accept, so they’ve stepped up their efforts to have a debate possibly here at the maagdenhuis tonight. One thing is for sure though- a drastic change will happen, although the question of when is still anyone’s guess.
    Its been a highly emotive, powerful experience. Direct action and solidarity with fellow individuals who share a common goal is a beautiful thing to be a part of! Its also highly addictive and insightful, the whole movement is run democratically with no hierarchal structure- proving that direct democracy although may be difficult is definitely possible and actually gives results that satisfy all who participate”.

    "Mi piace"

  2. ” I write you from the Maagdenhuis: occupied and under way”. Can a revolution start over pancakes? [INTERESTING HEADLINE–THOUGH I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT “UNDER WAY” MEANS TO SAY]
    27 febbraio 2015 lucaelgringo

    In the past couple of weeks [BE MORE PRECISE] Amsterdam has been the theatre of one of the most intense and breath taking protests [HYPERBOLIC–STATE PLAINLY] which have been happening in the Netherlands in the past few years [THIS QUALIFIER DOES LITTLE TO ADD IMPACT]. As a matter of fact [UNNECESSARY PREAMBLE], a surprisingly long lasting “arm-wrestling” [WHO’S SAYING THIS?] competition has been happening between the management board of the UVA university and its students and professors. [THERE ARE ELEMENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE LEAD HERE BUT IT NEEDS TO BE REWORKED IN MUCH PLAINER LANGUAGE]

    There have been various reasons which have triggered the start of the protest but the main one, at least [WHY THIS QUALIFIER?] according to the protesters, has been the lack of democratic transparency in the actions taken by the UVA while handling budget cuts and resource management. [GOOD INFORMATION, PROVIDED IN THE RIGHT PLACE, BUT TOO LONGWINDED]

    UVA has been under pressure to enact drastic cuts, due to the huge debt in which the university is [HAS] at the moment. [DUE TO WHAT?] One of the consequences of UVA’s financial situation has been to cut down drastically the funds to the humanities department. [REPEATS FIRST SENTENCE] Measure which has, of course, not been taken really well from the students and the staff. [REWORD IN PLAIN LANGUAGE]

    Moreover [THIS AND OTHER ACADEMIC ENGLISH TRANSITIONS ARE NOT NECESSARY IN NEWSWRITING, WHERE CONCISE WRITING IS IMPERATIVE], what the protesters mainly complain about, is the fact that UVA has been neglecting completely the possibility of any sort of dialogue with the staff and the students on how to handle the budget cuts. [ALSO GOOD INFORMATION–I CAN SEE YOU TRYING TO BOIL DOWN THE ISSUES FOR THE READER–BUT WRITE IN PLAIN

    The situation was already particularly tense. However, an initiative from UVA in particular, might have been the cause (and inspiration) for the students to occupy the Bungehuis building: the eviction of the Spinhuis.

    Spinhuis was an unused building owned by UVA which had been occupied by squatters and largely utilized by students as well.

    The eviction of the building ultimately enraged the students which considered it an important place to meet up. Consequently, the group of the Bungehuis occupation actually started to form. The students mainly got the idea to occupy from the Squatters experience (even if the occupation was exclusively initiated by students), and quickly started to organize the occupation. [THIS SECTION ABOUT THE SPINHUIS IS ALSO GOOD BACKGROUND BUT IS MISSING A LOT OF THE 5 W’S]

    I [WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO INSERT YOURSELF INTO THIS STORY?] was able to interview a student which actively took part in planning the Bungehuis occupation and that is currently taking part in the Maagdenhuis protest as well. The student wanted to maintain his anonymity. Therefore, he shared his story with me under the nickname of “number 10″. His story was particularly interesting due to the great obstacle which was placed between him and his commitment towards the protest and occupation: the fact of being a non European student. [MUCH OF THIS IS IRRELEVANT; WHAT ARE THE RELEVANT PARTS? ]

    I got in contact with number 10. [WHAT DOES THE ADDITION OF YOU IN THIS STORY, AND THE USE OF FIRST PERSON, ADD TO THE STORY?] When he answered to my questions I wrote him online ( we could not actually meet personally due to the Maagdenhuis immediate turn-out of events) this is what he texted me: ” I write to you from the Maagdenhuis: occupied and under way.”

    Number 10 has been involved in the protest since almost the beginning. He actively took part in planning the occupation.

    Quite ironically [UNNECESSARY EDITORIALIZING], this is how he described how the planning of him, and his fellow protesters started: ” We never explicitly talked about planning a form of direct action until January. Where I was invited to take part in a meeting discussing a possible mode of direct action. We met with a group of 21, made and ate pancakes and then planned to occupy the Bungehuis. Although I unfortunately did not get the pleasure of actually occupying.”

    Indeed, even if number 10 has been planning the occupation and helping the occupiers throughout their staying he was unable to directly, and intensively, take part to the occupation himself. Due to the higher risk of (if taken under arrest) having his permit taken away and become unable to keep on studying at UVA. Number 10 definitely felt that the higher risk he was going through while protesting had quite an impact on his experience: ” due to the fact I was not an E.U resident and other complicated matters I could not occupy. The decision was a hard one to make, since I was involved somewhat in the planning and this issue was close to my heart, I really wanted to occupy. It was a classic case of reason versus emotions, and I am not too sure whether reason prevailing was a good thing- because the people who did occupy had a beautiful experience that few get to experience. I nonetheless devoted as much time as I could to support them.. And showing solidarity in that manner was just as powerful for me.” [THIS QUOTE RUNS TOO LONG. PICK OUT THE MOST IMPORTANT BITS]

    I tried to find out what he meant by powerful and the answer which he gave me, allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the incredible “bust” which has been taking place during (and after) the Bungehuis occupation: ” The occupation sparked something much bigger than anyone anticipated! There was a protest of 1,700 people on Wednesday in the streets of Amsterdam supporting the occupation and the demands for a more democratic university! The support has been overwhelming, now with the occupation of the Maagdenhuis its a clear sign that these issues are serious and the resolve shown by the students to solve these issues is strong, and lets not forget this was a peaceful protest that is not ending yet”. [TOO LONG, AND IT BURIES THE MAAGDENHUIS OCCUPATION]

    The feeling which number 10 has towards the protest is undoubtedly strong and passionate, even considering the additional danger which he goes through due to the possibility of his permit being taken away, and many more students share the same resolve. Visiting the Magdeenhuis I have been asking questions to many people and they all seem to share the conviction that if the momentum keeps on going big concessions will have to be given and overall big changes within and outside the university are about to happen. [THE STORY REALLY LOSES MOMENTUM HERE]

    There is no actual certainty to what the turnouts of the events will be like, also because of the mutual inability of each side to properly communicate with the other, but surely the turnout of events (with the immediate occupation of the Maagdenhuis) has left everyone surprised both on the protesters side and on the UVA one. The momentum might end at any time that is certain, but it surely seems quite vivid and powerful right now. [TOO MUCH EDITORIALIZING]

    LUCA, I COMMEND YOU FOR TAKING ON THIS ASSIGNMENT AND GOING TO THE BUNGEHUIS TO COVER THE PROTEST. IT REFLECTS WELL ON YOUR POTENTIAL AND YOUR ABILITIES. THIS STORY HAS SOME PROMISE, BUT IT’S ULTIMATELY DONE IN BY A NUMBER OF ISSUES. FIRST, THERE ARE THE MECHANICAL ISSUES IN THE WRITING. IT VERY OFTEN TAKES 10 WORDS TO SAY SOMETHING THAT COULD BE SAID IN 5 WORDS–THE POINT IS TO TRY TO WRITE AS CONCISELY AS POSSIBLE. KEEP IT SIMPLE. KEEP IT LIMITED TO THE NECESSARY INFORMATION. I REALIZE MANY OF THE FLUENCY ISSUES ARE NOT EASILY SOLVED, BUT KEEP WORKING AT IT. THE OTHER MAJOR ISSUE WITH THIS PIECE IS THAT THERE SEEMS TO BE CONFUSION OVER WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT. YOU BEGIN WITH A FAIRLY EFFECTIVE SUMMARY OF THE PROTEST AND OCCUPATION OF THE BUNGEHUIS, BUT INTRODUCE YOURSELF AS A CHARACTER (TO LITTLE OVERALL EFFECT) AND THEN DELVE INTO THE STORY OF A NON-DUTCH STUDENT PROTESTER. BY THE MIDDLE OF THE STORY, IT HAS BECOME TOO EXPLORATORY AND LOSES THE ORIGINAL THREAD. THE EXPLORATION SHOULD HAPPEN BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN TO WRITE THE STORY, NOT IN THE STORY. BY THE TIME YOU SIT DOWN TO WRITE THE STORY, YOU SHOULD HAVE A CLEAR IDEA OF WHAT IT’S ABOUT. I THINK THE ISSUES WITH THIS ASSIGNMENT REFLECT NOT HAVING A FIRM GRASP OF WHAT ANGLE OF THIS ISSUE OR SUBJECT YOU’RE GOING TO TACKLE. YOU’LL HAVE MANY MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO PRACTICE THESE SKILLS. A FEW TIPS: KEEP ALL THESE THINGS IN MIND WHILE YOU’RE REPORTING THE STORY, NOT JUST WHEN YOU’RE WRITING IT. FIND SIMILAR STORIES IN THE NYT AND TRY TO USE THEM AS MODELS FOR YOUR ASSIGNMENTS. YOU WOULD BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND A STORY LIKE THE ONE YOU WROTE IN THE NYT. BUT YOU WOULD FIND MANY GOOD EXAMPLES OF STORIES THAT COVER SIMILAR TOPICS. PRACTICE YOUR SENSE OF STORY. JOURNALISM VALUES STRONG WRITING, BUT IT’S NOT THE SAME AS ACADEMIC WRITING. FINALLY, KEEP IT SIMPLE. USE THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF SPACE TO SAY WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY. KEEP WORKING AT IT, AND YOU’LL FIND YOURSELF MAKING IMPROVEMENTS.

    "Mi piace"

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