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Students launch digital action forum

Alex van Veen

5 January 2007 – Students of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have launched a web forum under the name University Activists. “It is part of our academic duty to be critical of the prevailing view”, they say in their foundation statement.

The students are concerned about the silence at the university. “The university should be a breeding ground of ideas and social movements. A source for mobilisation and resistance”, they write at their website.

The threshold for activism should be low, the students find. “Any student who feels connected to the world and who finds that he has to do more than just vote, is welcome”. […] “The most important thing is to be active. At the university, at home or in a bar, dialogue is necessary and activism is what keeps the world turning”.

René Boer (20), urban and rural planning student and one of the five initiators, said that the idea came into being last year, during a manifestation against the war in Iraq. “We met each other, and soon the idea emerged that it should be possible to unite the loose forms of activism among students”.

In sum, some 25 people have actively contributed to the new collaboration. The mailing list now includes about sixty persons. René attributes the limited use of the web forum so far to the fact that it was launched only a week ago and has hardly been promoted yet.

The web / action forum is above all practical, because it would otherwise take a lot of time to bring together involved students who study all kinds of subjects for meetings. “Even if one would succeed in that, it would soon result in endless discussions”, René says.

The issues that the University Activists want to focus on first are rooted in the Middle East. For example, a series of lectures on Iraq is being prepared. Names such as Joris Luyendijk, Robert Cooper and Robert Soeterik are mentioned at the website as potential speakers. However, students are also being mobilised for an anti-war meeting at the Crea and for the Summit from Below, a conference to take place in May.

Issues that the International Socialists [IS; an organisation with ties to the Socialist Workers Party – Ed.] is also actively involved in at the UvA. According to René, the University Activists have contacts with the IS, but there is no collaboration. “We are no ‘Socialists’, we consciously choose not to adhere to any ideology. We want to unite activist students in general, who may be Socialists, Anarchists, or for example Social-Democrats who are against the war”.

This article was originally published by Ravage Digitaal. Photo: students at the UvA protest against irritating security officers, September 2006.


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