Two factors had given rise to the conflict: poor communication and differences of opinion regarding activism within LSVb. While Hulzebos wanted to take to the streets with the students, according to the former Chair the other members were focused on maintaining a good relationship with the current coalition parties.

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LSVb Chair to depart: ‘I wanted to make a real union of it’

‘The LSVb was held to account by the Minister and the rest of the Board thought that it…

Initially, the remaining Board members were unavailable for comment. But after the news had spread, Vice Chair Carline van Breugel spoke with a number of media, including Het Parool. She told the latter that the others didn’t recognise Hulzebos’s version of events: “As far as we’re concerned, the issues lay in our collaboration.”

Petition

It didn’t take long for a petition to be posted online. “The LSVb Board has sabotaged and undermined the democratically elected Chairwoman of our Dutch Student Union, Geertje Hulzebos, for such an extended period in connection with her activist attitude that she had no choice but to step down,” is how the petition puts it. “We demand that the elected Chairwoman is reinstated and that the union once again adopts its activist approach!”

The initiative for the appeal was taken by the Groningen student Jildou de Jong. “I saw Geertje in action some time ago during the student protests in Groningen,” she says. “We were occupying the university to protest the lack of housing for international students. I think it’s ridiculous she had to step down. The way I see it, assertive people who are there for the students are precisely the kind of people you need in a union.”

Friends

But shouldn’t you always try to talk things over? “Yes, but simply trying to stay friends with the ruling parties isn’t the way to go,” says De Jong. “This coalition hasn’t been a friend to students – and there’s no reason why you wouldn’t acknowledge it.” She is a member of the SP-affiliated youth organisation ROOD, although she says this has nothing to do with the present petition, which has been posted online by Memes voor de Massa’s, the media platform of Poldersocialistische Eenheidspartij Nederland.

And indeed, Hulzebos feels warmed by this support. “A call to show solidarity with my battle: please sign and share!” she tweeted. “The only way I can let myself be heard is when many others stand up with me and shout ‘enough’s enough’. My heartfelt thanks!”

Bearing in mind the current conflict, the chances of Hulzebos returning as Chair are quite slim. LSVb didn’t want to respond to the petition, according to Vice Chair Van Breugel. The present Board will be meeting with the member unions tomorrow to discuss the situation.