Campus 20 April 2023

New student party wants to get rid of ‘privileges’ for VU Pride

Three new parties, one jumps out

“I'm sorry, can you do it in English?” asks someone from the audience as the leader of the Vrijmoedige Studentenpartij (loosely translated to ‘outspoken student party’) introduces himself during the student council’s election debate. But Marlon Uljee, a first-year Psychology student, refuses to do so. Just last year, he was a candidate for right-wing party Forum voor Democratie for the municipal council of Almere.

“What is happening here is exemplary of the far-reaching internationalization here at VU,” he says. So he continues his contribution in Dutch, during this otherwise English-spoken debate for a mixed audience.

The Vrijmoedige Studentenpartij is not the only new party running for the student council this year. ChangeVU and the Liberal University Party are also competing, alongside the familiar SRVU. They discuss topics such as an alcohol ban on campus (all against) and breaking ties with the fossil industry: ChangeVU is for it, the Liberals are against it. (Read the entire report here.)

Shocked audience

Marlon Uljee and his opponent Guido Groenescheij (SRVU) discuss a statement about academic freedom: ‘Could you prefer academic freedom over the feelings of individuals on campus?’ And then the discussion becomes more emotional. For Uljee, everything revolves around his fight against ‘wokeism’. According to him, teachers have approached him saying they are stressed because they no longer know what they can say in their lectures. He does not mention any names (the teachers want to remain anonymous), nor gives any examples. It’s unfortunate that the moderator doesn’t ask any follow-up questions.

So Uljee is against woke and against identity politics. And for this he does have an example. Of all the groups on campus, VU Pride is the one that bothers him the most: he has a problem with the fact that VU “privileges and favors” such a group. There are shocked sounds from the audience, and his opponent protests as well: “VU Pride is creating a space for people who don't have one yet.” For those who have been following Uljee for some time, this is not a very surprising stance. In January, he tweeted: “I am currently more insulted and discriminated against at the university than your average fag. Should we also explicitly highlight the white heterosexual man? No, no, we’re not whining about it, and to us everyone is equal.” This was in response to the news that the ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation would be included in Article 1 of the Constitution.

In short, VU Amsterdam is a microcosm of society. The elections for the university student council and the faculty councils run until Thursday, votes can be cast until then.

Marieke Schilp


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