Amsterdam Academic Club became too expensive for UvA: ‘The living room’ ends

Academic Club Amsterdam (AAC), housed in a historic building on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, is known as “UvA’s living room”, University of Amsterdam. It was the ideal place for people from inside and outside the university to attend a lecture, concert or debate and exchange ideas.

But the management (CvB) announced at the end of February that the club must stop on July 1, among other reasons for financial reasons. It aroused tumult and resistance. According to the university, the AAC had 300 members at the end of 2019; the club itself comes to 600 members. This faculty club was founded in 1995 following the American example of former Chairman of the Board Jan Karel Gevers, who died in 1998 at the age of 58.

‘Amsterdam loses unique place’

Mary Mijnlieff, one of the frequent visitors, wrote a fierce post on March 21st The password: „Amsterdam loses a unique meeting place with the closure of this ‘living room’. UvA should have decided differently, considering alternatives to avoid closure. She is following the ever-decreasing supply of relaxed meeting places for Amsterdammere in a city where the number of single and increasingly highly educated people is growing. ” Mijnlieff calls the range of lectures ‘low-threshold’ and ‘high-level’. On the phone, she says that her opinion piece received a “zero point zero reaction” from the current board with Geert ten Dam as chairman.

Our activities were also a great success after lockdowns. It is wrong to say that interest is declining

Machteld Lowensteijn art historian, lectured for AAC

Emeritus Professor of International Communication, Professor Cees Hamelink, accuses the board of “not consulting with club members. The board professes transparency vis-à-vis the outside world, but is in reality anything but open.” Hamelink, who is also a jazz musician, has been responsible for jazz concerts since the foundation on Friday night. Hamelink: “We have always sought the connection between university and society. Attendance at the meetings, also from non-members, was great, we worked with many organizations. In consultation with affected stakeholders, we prepared a letter which was supported by two hundred people. ” Hamelink appreciates AAC’s scientific, cultural and musical activities, such as the awarding of the Communicative City Award and the Amsterdam World Jazz City.

Art historian Drs. Machteld Löwensteijn, who is responsible for historical and art history lectures with national and international speakers, also preferred better communication: “UvA has not since the reopening after lockdowns given the club the opportunity to flourish again. However, Cees and I were asked to continue the activities planned at the beginning of the academic year and they were a great success. It is wrong to say that interest is declining. “

‘It is urgent to meet each other’

Mijnlieff admits that lectures are also given at Spui 25 and KNAW, but these institutions’ miss the social context and the opportunity to meet each other. The latter in particular is an urgent need to keep the academic world alive, even though fewer and fewer people are joining associations. ” In a reply to the letter writers Hamelink and Löwensteijn, Chairman Ten Dam said on June 9 that the costs are too high and that ‘the university can no longer justify investing (community) money in an activity that is valued but not one of The core tasks ”.

According to UvA, this is 2 tonnes a year. A spokesman for UvA continues: NRC We know: “With a view to the development in the University Quarter, we have chosen to create space for new developments and initiatives. In recent years, attempts have been made several times and in various ways to make AAC a thriving initiative. Unfortunately, it did not succeed. We understand that it is disappointing for some members, but sometimes you have to say goodbye to something old to make room for something new. ”

Photo by Daniel Niessen

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