A throwback to the ’70s! In April 2017, the Netherlands’ academic community went old-school ‘progressive’ – and Rotterdam was no exception.

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The month kicked off with a modest win for the University as an employer: we finally have a new CLA. And the trade unions have cause for celebration too: the universities have promised to formulate a plan to alleviate the high pressure of work, and salaries will be retroactively raised by 1.4 percent. However, actually getting here was a different story. The negotiations were reminiscent of the endless deliberations of the left-wing 1970s. And since they took up the better part of a year, the new agreement will only be effective for another two months or so. In short, the negotiators can pull up their chairs again – while they’re still warm.

In the meantime, the student unions are keeping a watchful eye on what the Ministry of Education will be doing with the basic grant dowry. At one point, the Ministry had pledged one billion euro in extra investments in higher education, but nobody actually expects this money to materialise anymore – least of all the student unions.

To start, the basic grant spending cuts freed up far less money than expected. Next, a committee suggested that the funds – despite the government’s previous assurances – could also be used for valorisation and research. After studying the results of nation-wide research, the student unions conclude that at any rate, the cancellation won’t be resulting in more money per student. It is becoming less and less likely that the first generation of ‘loan students’ will actually notice an influx of new funding during their studies.

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Are the environment and climate change still explicitly left-wing themes? Whatever the case, ninety professors hope not. They have written an open letter to the nascent – and predominantly right-wing – cabinet, asking them to appoint a Minister of Energy and Climate Change. According to the professors, who are led by Jan Rotmans, these themes are the ‘pre-eminent challenge facing us in the decades ahead’. In addition, they call on the government to invest 200 billion euro in sustainability and green energy, and to pay more attention to sustainability in education curricula.

On 22 April, scientists and scholars, including members of the EUR staff, descended from their ivory towers for another pinko hobby: a protest march. The Dutch edition of the global March for Science drew some 3,000 people to Amsterdam’s Museumplein. The cause itself was less explicitly left-wing: against the equation of solid science and the unsubstantiated opinions of reality stars and/or presidents, and for the importance of empirical evidence. We’re not sure whether the placards with slogans under 140 characters have warmed the angry white man’s heart to science again – despite pithy quotes like ‘Science because lasers’ and ‘I like science even more than pizza!’.

If you’re still on the fence regarding EUR’s left-wing bent, the Erasmus Sustainability Hub is sure to wake you up. After Meatfree Mondays, ErasMugs and Warm Sweater Day, the latest plan the University’s resident greens are launching is a ‘bee palace’ in Park Noord. Although the person who cooked up this plan, RSM staff member Babs Verploegh, prefers the name Bee Building (because it’s opposite the G Building – get it?). Trained beekeeper Verploegh wants to capture a swarm and maintain the colony according to organic principles. The building is intended to house an insect hotel and one or more beehives. It may even be set up this summer.

And keeping up the left-wing lingo for a bit longer: the study association Cedo Nulli was recently confronted with some ‘proletarian shopping’. Or to put a right-wing spin on it: louts used ‘brute force’ to break into the room of the Social Sciences faculty association and loot their computer equipment and cameras. While the police are still looking for suspects, it seems unlikely that total strangers would know exactly where to look on the 15th floor of the Mandeville Building. The matter is being investigated.

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In March, Amber Visser was told that she had a serious illness (image: SvdM)

One thing that people of all political stripes can agree on is how tragic it is that a young student is diagnosed with acute leukaemia. This recently happened to Psychology and Philosophy student Amber Visser (20). In an interview with EM, Visser talked about how within a matter of weeks, her carefree life of studying, dancing and hanging out with friends shrank to a bed in a 4×4-metre room at Erasmus MC. But Visser definitely isn’t throwing in the towel. If she receives a stem cell transplantation, she has a 75 percent chance of surviving the disease. She does however need a donor for this, and these are slightly harder to find than blood donors, for example. But anyone can help by registering as a potential stem cell donor, which increases her chances of finding a match.