Students interview Mayor Krikke
Mayor Pauline Krikke will be visiting various educational institutions during the period ahead in order to get a better picture of The Hague’s future population. And she paid the first of these visits to The Hague University of Applied Sciences. In an interview that gave students a chance to ask her anything, she made it plain that she ‘very much disagreed’ another party member, Mark Rutte.
‘Pretty nervous’ was how Masoumeh Jamalinia, a master’s student in International Communication Management, described herself. She provided the mayor with an explanation of the Bright Future Scholarship. This scholarship for refugees with a residency status was one of the four projects that the students informed the mayor about (the other three were the development of a skating device for disabled children, the graduation research project investigating domestic violence, and the pancake printer project).
Taking the time for us
This Iranian student, however, had no cause for concern. Jamalinia: ‘It was great to see that such a highly placed administrator would take the time for us. She was empathetic and really listened.’ The mayor asked her what her own dream was. ‘I told her that I wanted to play a useful role in this country. Because the Netherlands has given me so much, I’d like to give something back.’
Whitney Waldschmit, a student in Social Educational Care, was one of four students who conducted a graduation research project into child abuse occurring within volunteer organisations. She felt that the mayor was friendly and accessible. ‘She naturally wanted to know about the findings of our research and what we could do with them in the future – as well as what we as students wanted ourselves. I really enjoyed talking with her but I felt a little uneasy when the photographer arrived to take pictures.’
A public interview
The highlight of the event was a public interview similar to the Dutch TV programme, ‘College Tour’. Krikke graduated from a university of applied sciences (in library sciences) but didn’t complete her law studies. ‘In politics, I never got asked for my diploma. I’ve always been judged on the basis of my abilities. But I’d advise you to obtain one diploma at least; so make sure to finish your degree programme. People often just assume that I have a university degree, and this can lead to confusion. I don’t want to make people think I’m any “better” than I am, so I’m always careful to correct them if necessary.
Not in agreement
One person in the audience asked the mayor what she thought of the fact that her party member, Mark Rutte, couldn’t find any suitable women in the VVD for his cabinet. ‘I very much disagree with Rutte in that regard,’ answered Krikke. ‘I’ve long been involved in the scouting of talented members of my party, and I felt it was really important to have a 50-50 ratio. It’s also true, though, that women often have to be asked whilst men take a lot more pro-active approach.’
A question of importance among many in the audience was whether the municipal authorities were doing enough to give students what they need. ‘I think that having 30,000 students going to school here is doing a lot to invigorate The Hague,’ answered the mayor. ‘They’re inquisitive and make the city a much livelier place. When I’m returning from a long municipal council meeting and I’m walking home over the Plein, it looks to me as if our nightlife offers students enough options. But if you have some good ideas, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org’
Student housing was another tricky issue. What did Krikke have to say about this? ‘It’s on the municipal council’s agenda. Housing of all kinds is an issue in our city. Not just for students but also for young people who want to leave their family home and for people from other places who want to come and live here. The shortage is severe. Nevertheless, we want to provide students with housing in the city. We’re looking for suitable locations but we can’t keep up with demand. This will always be a source of tension.’
The last question asked of the mayor was what she had learned from her visit to THUAS. ‘The Hague University of Applied Sciences is committed to global citizenship and wants to promote the graduation of stable people ready to meet the future. It’s nice to see a school that looks at education like this. After all, at this time in history, everything’s moving so rapidly that you might now be learning to enter a certain profession that won’t even be around five years from now. Yet despite all these changes, you’ll always have the advantage of being a global citizen. If you’re a stable person, you’ll benefit from this all through your life.’