Pro-Palestine protests will also play major role in student election

24 May 2024

The question whether Radboud University should sever ties with Israeli institutions will play an important part in the student election. Vox confirmed this after talking to the five parties joining the election. Students will be able to cast their vote until Wednesday.

The student elections are in full swing. This week, five parties are trying to garner as many seats as possible in the University Student Council (USR). As of year, there are fourteen seats up for grabs, instead of eight.

The pro-Palestine protests, which have been going on around campus since last week, will play an important part in this election. Two student parties have a visible presence in the protesters’ camp, but the other three parties also have their stances on the issue.

Protest marches

‘Like other members of my party, I have spent a few nights in the camp’, says De Knokpartij’s Koen de Kooter. ‘Protesting is the main avenue for change, as the USR is not very powerful right now.’

De Knokpartij fully supports the protesters’ demands; among other things, they want Radboud University to break all ties with Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as those institutions are working with the Israeli military.

‘We’re handing out fewer flyers than the other parties, because we’re very busy with the camp’

That is why De Knokpartij’s campaign is less intense than normal. ‘Our members think the protest is important, which is why they’ve taken on several tasks and part of the organisation’, according to De Kooter. ‘We will definitely still hand out flyers and put up posters, but we will likely do less than the other parties, as the protests are keeping us busy.’

Carrots and ice cream

AKKU also supports the demands of the protesters, as stated by Lloyd Hooghwinkel. Several AKKU members are sleeping in the camp, and the student union also offers some practical support to the protesters; they can use the AKKU office to go to the bathroom or have some coffee, for example.

But unlike De Knokpartij, AKKU itself has not taken on an active role in the camp. ‘We have no intention of leading the protests’, according to Hooghwinkel. ‘It wouldn’t feel right to use the protests to raise our own profile.’

Besides the camp, AKKU does campaign all over campus. ‘Today, we’ll be handing out carrots and ice cream. And you can find our campaign signs all over campus.’

War crimes

Members of Green+ are not involved with the camp, but they do support the protesters’ demands, and they participated in several marches. ‘It is increasingly obvious that Isreal is committing horrible war crimes; all Palestinian universities have been destroyed’, as stated by Rebecca van Eijden. ‘That is why we support cutting ties. And as with Russia, we should be mindful of Israeli students who do not want to be accessories to war crimes.’

‘A lot of students want change. That can come through protests, but also by talking to the Executive Board via the USR’

According to Van Eijden, the University’s ties to Israeli institutions are on a lot of students’ minds. ‘A lot of students want change. That can come through protests, but also by talking to the Executive Board via the USR.’

Members of Green+ will be holding a lot of talks over the next few days on the importance of the USR. They will also be hosting a clothes swap, and they’ll try to talk to as many students as possible.

Budget Cuts

Parker Winkel (ISEC). Foto: Bert Beelen

Does the Inclusion & Social Equity Commission (ISEC) support the protests? ‘We support the student’’ right to peaceful protest’, Parker Winkel replies.

Winkel suspects that the protesting students will vote for a party actively involved with the protest. ‘De Knokpartij and AKKU have been focusing on those students for the past few weeks. That is why I feel that ISEC should campaign outside the camps.’

ISEC, according to Winkel, is trying to campaign at a more personal level, by talking with people and handing out cookies. However, Winkels is worried that the discussion surrounding Israel is pushing away other topics, like the new government’s plans for budget cuts.

Derk Wijkamp. Foto: Johannes Fiebig

Fun campaign

Finally, the new party V.O.S. Nijmegen is less engaged with the protests than the other parties. Speaking on behalf of V.O.S. Nijmegen, Derk Wijkamp did not want to discuss the protesters’ demands. However, he did go on to state that he thinks it is important that anyone should feel free to join the marches. ‘That includes our members; they just cannot do it on behalf of V.O.S.’

Wijkamp could not say whether the protests would significantly impact the election. ‘We won’t know until we see the results. Our hope is that this has made students more aware of the elections.’

In any case, the members of V.O.S. are diving headfirst into their campaign. ‘Every day, we’re in every building with all sorts of fun activities, food, and drinks. We hope to convince as many students as possible to cast their vote; the associations under our umbrella will do likewise.’

You can vote in the student elections until Wednesday, May 29th, using this link.

Translated by Jasper Pesch

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