New student party will ‘fight for more democracy on campus’

21 Apr 2023 ,

Student referenda, more affordable dishes in the Refter, and free menstrual products; the Knokpartij, a newly formed student party, aims to become a radical opposition on campus. ‘The Executive Board needs to take more responsibility.’

The student elections are setting up for excitement after all. Besides AKKUraatd and the recently founded V.O.S., there is a third party vying for seats on the University Student Council: the Knokpartij.

‘Just to be clear: we are not a group of thugs’, according to founder Kayleigh Hofstede (22), who was chair for AKKU only two years ago. ‘But we will be fighting for student interests in the Joint Assembly’, co-founder Tom Steenblok (22) adds. Both students consider the participational bodies very important. ‘However, at the moment they are not democratic and transparent enough’, according to Hofstede.

While the Knokpartij’s views will likely overlap a great deal with those of AKKUraatd, the party aims to participate in a more radical way. ‘We have our own brand of politics’, Steenbok says. ‘While AKKUraatd is interested in dialogue, we intend to provide more opposition to the Executive Board and speak out more. Eventually, we hope to effect change.’


The Knokpartij’s party programme is mainly critical of the electoral system. While members of the University Student Council are elected democratically, according to the party’s founders they have too little authority. ‘The USR often has the right of initiative and to offer advice, but the Executive Board is under no obligation to use these’, according to Steenbok. For example: ‘A while ago, AKKUraatd wrote excellent advice about hiring a student gardener, but the Executive Board chose to disregard it.’

‘We feel that students should have more say’

That is why the Knokpartij’s founders feel that students should have more authority at the university. How do they envision that? ‘Right now, we’re still writing our programme, but at the very least we feel that students should have more say than they do currently’, according to Hofstede. ‘We’re considering referenda, for example, so that students can directly influence decision-making, creating more transparency.’


The Knokpartij has a third main point besides democracy and transparency: according to the new party, the Executive Board should take more responsibility. ‘We’ve seen a lot of cases where that did not happen’, Hofstede says. ‘For example, a lot of internationals have difficulty finding student housing. Or consider the NietMijnSchuld campaign, which the Board refused to sign. That needs to be handled differently.’

In addition to criticizing the system, the party also has several concrete themes they want to focus on. ‘We want to institute free menstrual products on campus, have cheaper dishes at the Refter, and combat the SPAR’s monopoly on campus.’

‘A lot of students think the participational bodies are a far-off affair’

But will the Knokpartij be able to accomplish all those points? In the past, other parties have suggested several of these points before, with little result. Steenblok wants to manage expectations. ‘We’re not going to pretend that we will accomplish everything we set out to do’, he says. ‘A lot of the things we want are up to the Executive Board and more democracy. But we’re still going to fight for them.’

Board grants

Like the other parties, the Knokpartij is aiming to fill their list out in full, and the founders are confident that they will pull it off. The Knokpartij wants to use its campaign to focus on students who are not familiar with the participational bodies. ‘A lot of students are unfamiliar with them’, according to Hofstede. ‘I don’t think that’s because they don’t care, but a lot of students think the participational bodies are a far-off affair. If they can see more clearly what those bodies entail, I’m sure they will find it much more interesting.’

The founders don’t wish to say how many seats they’re aiming for. ‘I think every seat we win is great’, Steenbok says. ‘Our goals also serve the interests of the other student parties. For example, we can work with them in the Joint Assembly on subjects like raising the board grants, something they have been fighting for over the last couple of years.’

Great that you are reading Vox! Do you want to stay up to date on all university news?

Thanks for adding the vox-app!

Leave a comment

Vox Magazine

Independent magazine of Radboud University

read the latest Vox online!

Vox Update

A direct, daily or weekly update with our articles in your mailbox!