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Leenstelsel Protests, interviews: Rudy & Fatema

How has this cost personally impacted me? It made me more aware of how I should fight as the case for my rights, especially because of the student debts, how students are being taken advantage of, especially if we compare it to how our generation has less freedom to study, compared to generations before, such as how Mark Rutte did.

Why was I at the protest? I was there to support the cause, also, because someone in my association was a speaker, Maria Toko. And also to try to bring awareness to the cause, and with the hope, it can make an impact.

What kind of impact do I think these types of protests have? I think that it brings awareness and attention. I do wish that more students, naturally, were more aware of these kinds of events, it is often quite the same kind of students at these protests, but I wish more students were a bit more like activists concerning these kinds of topics.

What kind of change would I like to see? The abolishment of the system. Get rid of it. Why do I think the responsibility lies within change? The Tweede Kamer and Minister of Education.

You know, there needs to be a new proposal, either by the Minister or the Tweede Kamer, and then a majority of parties needs to consent to it. Also, of course, it's up to young people to vote for parties that are against the system. And boomers should get over themselves. What you often hear is that boomers say, well, we had a tough so you can have it tough too instead of we've had a tough, let's make sure that you don't have it as tough as well. Rudy van der Beek Even though I was part of the old system, the loan system impacted me. Because of the pressures of being a student, you have to work, build your resume, get experience and everything. Even while working on the side, it was impossible to self-fund my studies and I was forced to go into debt. After three years of studying and working, I got a burnout, a very heavy one. I wasn't able to work anymore, go to school, I had to stay at home. My mental health was declining, my body gave up and basically, the pressure was too high. And I still had to keep on taking money, because there's no other choice. So yeah, it impacted me personally, very negatively.

I am here today. Not only for myself but for the upcoming generations. I have a brother who is studying, and two other siblings who are going to study and I would like them to have a normal student life where there is not a lot of pressure, where they shouldn't go into debt. And the Netherlands is a small country, we should be able to self-fund our students to help prioritize education quality. So I think it's feasible. And instead of going in the direction of the United States, we should be taking the example of our neighboring Scandinavian countries and our German neighbors who go tuition-free.

I would like to see the erasure of all current student debt. While this might be very ambitious, I also would like to see the abolition of tuition fees. As I said, we are a small country, it should be feasible, and a country like the Netherlands should be a pioneer in education quality. I would like to see more and serious investments in education.

Fatema Mahmoud


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