News of the Week 8: 12 – 18 February
Criticism at Starbucks opening
The Starbucks in the University Library had an exclusive opening for invited guests on Friday and opened to the public on Saturday. Although the chain is known for its expensive drinks, a normal cup of coffee will cost 1.30 euros at the UB branch.
Students and staff also expressed dismay that the canteen on the fourth floor would be closing. University council chairperson Hilly Mast says the secrecy surrounding the opening was quite strange. Council members were also concerned that a portion of the funds for the UB renovations were spent to bring Starbucks to the RUG.
Both the Zernike and city centre branches of Studystore will be closing. Student organisations have lucrative deals with Studystore for their faculty book sales, but that is ending, too. Now, student organisations will receive a percentage of the profits depending on how many students actually buy from Studystore, which could be as little as 10 euros.
The company will continue offering books online, but some organisations are already looking for a new business partner for the future. Since Studystore has bought up much of its own competition over the years, that may be tricky.
Food and drink prices changing
The prices for food and drink at the RUG are changing as a result of a client satisfaction survey and market comparison. In the survey, students and employees said they felt prices in campus facilities were ‘expensive and unclear’. In comparison to other universities and local eateries, the RUG prices did not conform to market norms.
Tea: .50 to .80
Hesselink coffee: 1.00 to 1.10
Ham/cheese sandwiches: .60 to .90
Croquette: 1.40 to 1.50
Soup de luxe: 1.60 to 1.00
Quarter liter milk: .90 to .75
Soda: 1.80 to 1.65
Fruit: .85 to .60
Millions for earthquake-proofing buildings
Minister Kamp is giving 50 million euros to the municipality to make construction projects in the city earthquake-proof. The extra costs incurred to the projects will also have to be paid from the funding. The new Zernikeborg and Energy Academy buildings are projected to be ten percent more expensive as a result.
The to-be-built Zernikeborg, Energy Academy Europe and the proton facilities of UMCG will be covered by the fund. The expenses will be charged to NAM or the ministry. The RUG is allocating 18 million euros for Zernikeborg and 2 million for the Energy Academy.
Medical students want vouchers
A committee of five students wants to instate a voucher system in the Medical faculty. The vouchers would be an extra component of the new Medical bachelor programme. First year students would get three vouchers a year to pursue extra education, such as classes outside their specialization or one-on-one lessons.
However, ‘students already feel that their workload is very high, and this could add to that’, says Simone Munk. Lecturer Girbe Buist also has doubts: ‘It seems that the budget wouldn’t permit that’.
No protests in Groningen
Students in Amsterdam are occupying a building and calling for open financial management and university board elections. Groningen student parties don’t see that happening here.
‘I don’t think that an election is necessary. That would be a circus’, says Bernadette van der Blij of Lijst Calimero. SOG doesn’t have any protest plans, either. ‘You’re in stronger position if you bring your concerns to the negotiating table’, says Esmee Gemke. Yaniek Schuring of the Groninger Studentenbond says, ‘This kind of action raises the question: what sort of image is this creating for all university students?’