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The debate of... Marije Blom

Five questions for Marije Blom, a member of the CASSA student committee, about the election debate that this Committee for General Student Activity Grants helped make possible. ‘Things we contribute to must have some substance.'

How was the debate?

‘It was quite a long sit –  or stand actually – but it was really cool. Stadsgehoorzaal was sold out and, as there were no chairs, many more people could get in than usual: 1,300! On the podium were Jan Paternotte (#2, D66), Nicolien van Vroonhoven-Kok (#2, NSC), Bente Becker (#3, VVD), Ernst Boutkan (#3, Volt), Senna Maatoug (#13, PvdA/GroenLinks) and Alexander Hendriks (#13 BBB) in a debate moderated by Jort Kelder. They stood at lecterns but occasionally walked into the room, along a kind of catwalk. Then they could then respond to comments, answer questions or sell themselves and their party.’

CASSA provided a grant for the debate. Why?

‘First, because it meets our criteria. If you want CASSA to support your activity, it must benefit a reasonably large group of students and be organised by students. This debate was organised by the Local Chamber of Associations in cooperation with the student associations Minerva, Njord, Augustinus, SSR, Catena, Asopos de Vliet and Quintus. And a similar debate was held during the previous national elections in 2017. That was a great success, which helped when the organisation approached us. And because the cabinet fell, it all had to be arranged quickly, which is why we were happy to help.’

Marije Blom, CASSA member

But if it’s up to you, this won’t be the last time, will it?

‘I really hope the debate is a keeper. It sold out, so it definitely met a need. And why not do the same for provincial, municipal or European elections? I’m keen to see if anyone will take up this gauntlet.’

Suppose someone wants to. What should they do?

'You can apply online. In addition to the criteria I just mentioned, as a committee we look in particular at whether your plan is special or new. It’s also important that you demonstrate academic merit. In that regard, we as CASSA always look for the challenge. Things we contribute to must have some substance, like the debate. But you can interpret “academic value” very widely. So, as well as excursions, conferences and anniversaries, we also support plays and musicals. It’s all about student development, and we want to support that – in as many ways as we can.’

Final question: did the debate influence who you are going to vote for?

‘Yes. I wasn’t sure beforehand but am now definitely going to vote for the party I’ve always voted for. In that respect, it was a very good, open-minded debate.’

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