Antithese was formed by a group of concerned students and academics from different faculties who represent De Nieuwe Universiteit movement. What started as opposition to Humanities Faculty reforms at the UvA (Profiel 2016) and the reorganisation of the Beta faculties at the VU and UvA became a new front line of the international student struggle. On Friday the 13th of February, this group of students decided to occupy the Bungehuis (Spuistraat 210) and oppose the reforms enacted by the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam.
De Nieuwe Universiteit’s demands oppose the transformation of the higher education landscape in the Netherlands into a corporate structure where profit triumphs over the quality of education and research. Our main demand is the democratisation and decentralisation of university governance. These goals are pursued through direct action (i.e. occupations), the purpose of which is to embody the ideals that we seek to achieve in our own actions. For instance, the occupation of the Bungehuis (and the subsequent appropriation of the Maagdenhuis) have allowed its participants to learn and practice direct democracy (consensus model) and self-organise a whole community in an autonomous, noncommercial space. The Bungehuis occupation also opposed the sale of this iconic building (and others in central Amsterdam) to the tourist industry. This beautiful building was recently sold off to Soho House, who will transform it into a hotel and membership-only club for people from the creative industry to enjoy. This nontransparent real estate speculation is also a symptom of the neoliberalisation of
universities. Coverage of the Bungehuis occupation has died down since the Maagdenhuis Appropriation. The Bungehuis experience, however, was essential to the growth of the students’ movement and deserves some emphasis.
The first edition of Antithese is entirely devoted to these eleven days of occupation. You will find in those pages a series of archives, stories and poems from Bungehuis occupiers and sympathisers. The articles provide some analysis but also convey the emotions experienced by those involved. This format shifts the discourse from that presented by the media and public institutions to the activists’ own perspectives.