“The problem is bigger than I thought”, Nathaniel Germain, chair of STUUR, confesses. Energy costs have doubled since the start of this year, prompting the government to launch a compensation package to cushion the impact of this rise. However, students aren’t part of the compensation plan.
“The students that reached out to us have said that they had to pay hundreds of euros extra, others haven’t been able to afford to buy groceries anymore, so they have had to diet basically. It’s quite a serious issue.” Nathaniel explains that not having enough money has been the common theme in the twenty responses to the hotline thus far.
Once sufficient data is collected, the student union will present their findings to the municipality of Rotterdam. “Right now, the municipality isn’t convinced yet that there are enough students that have this issue. So, we hope they’ll do something with this information and compensate the students.”
STUUR Rotterdam is not alone in this cause. The Dutch Student Union LSVb has also opened a hotline to put greater pressure on the government and ensure the financial wellbeing of students affected by the high energy costs.
However, given that the government has yielded the decision-making power to the municipalities on this matter, Nathaniel encourages all students from Rotterdam who have been affected by the sudden increase to fill in STUUR Rotterdam’s hotline. “If you are a student in Rotterdam, Dutch or international, that has spent more money on your electricity bill and you find it more difficult to reach the end of the month, fill in the hotline. The more responses we have, the more we can force the municipality to do something.”