Not all Rotterdam students are aware of the upcoming municipal elections. But the fact that they can vote for the district council at the same time may come as an even greater surprise to many of them. That’s something that Friso van Gruijthuijsen (20) also notices when he talks to friends about his political dream. “Not many people know what the district council does. But when I explain what the district council stands for, nearly everyone gets enthusiastic.”

The Econometrics and Economics student talks passionately and in the ‘we’ form about the institution in which he is trying to get a seat. “The district council is a mini municipal council. We give solicited and unsolicited advice to the municipal council about issues facing Kralingen. As residents, we are also more aware about what’s going on and what’s important in the area than most municipal council members.”

A shame

There are 39 district councils all over Rotterdam. They replace the area committees, district committees and current district councils. Van Gruijthuijsen feels it’s important that, particularly in Kralingen, students are part of the district council who can represent EUR and make its voice heard. The candidate posters on the street show that not very many of our peers have a chance of a seat. “Which is a shame. As a member of the district council, you can really make changes. Traffic safety, more green amenities in the district and how to manage nuisance from student houses.”

That last issue is not just important to Van Gruijthuijsen but has been a subject of concern for quite some time throughout the district. “Although we don’t directly address that in the district council, we can explain what’s happening and discuss what we feel might be good solutions. My idea? For a start, the houses should be better insulated. I think that would help a lot.”

Make Kralingen better

There are 23 candidates for Kralingen district council and only nine seats. Van Gruijthuijsen will need to work hard until 16 March, but he enjoys it. “Hanging up posters, distributing flyers on campus. At the moment, I’m not doing much studying.”

Despite being a member of the youth organisation of the VVD, the party also by his name on the ballot paper, he hopes to encourage students and residents with different political views to vote too. “The great thing about the district council is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the left or right. If you are talking about greening the district or making Oostplein safer for cyclists, being left or right means nothing. We all want to make Kralingen better, that’s what it’s about.”

EUR student kandidaten verkiezingen 2023 Hendrik van Hout – illustratie Migle Alonderyte

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