Universiteit Leiden

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Steven Lek

They want a seat in The Hague City Council

Many students, staff and alumni of Leiden University are politically active. In the run-up to the local elections on 21 March, candidates in The Hague and Leiden explain why you should vote for them, and what they want to do if they are elected. In this article, it is the turn of the candidates in The Hague.

Wander Catshoek (Dynamo Den Haag)

‘I am Wander Catshoek, and I’m 41 years old. I studied Languages and Cultures of China at Leiden University, and for a long time I worked with the National Ombudsman. For the last few months I’ve been working as a policy maker at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

‘Together with a few others, I started the new party Dynamo Den Haag (Dynamo The Hague). We want The Hague to become more lively and dynamic. An important objective is to make The Hague into a real university city, which is equal to Leiden in terms of the number of students and study programmes. Where possible, of course, we will do this in collaboration with my alma mater. Historically, it just happens that The Hague has never had a university and that’s really unfortunate.

‘My study programme at the University helped me to develop as a person. During that time, I studied at universities in Beijing and London, and naturally I learned and experienced a great deal during my time as a student.’

Astrid Frey (CDA)

‘My name is Astrid Frey, and I’m 45 years old. I studied Cultural Anthropology in “Building 5” behind Leiden Central Station. My background is development cooperation. I worked for a long time at Cordaid and recently moved to the Eduardo Frei Stichting, a foundation for international solidarity that is part of the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal).

The Hague is a flourishing city, where my family and I greatly enjoy living. Over the next four years, I want to work on encouraging cultural and community activities, which strengthen the bonds and contacts between people and cultures.

The University gave me a broad and analytic view of the world. I gained an understanding of the rich array of different cultures and societies, both far away and close to home. This will be very useful for me in the City Council of a metropolis like The Hague.’

Arjen Kapteijns (GroenLinks, local party leader)

‘I am Arjen Kapteijns, 44 years old. I work as a senior policy maker for Sustainability with the central government. I completed an evening study programme in Political Science at Leiden University’s campus in The Hague. My studies inspired me so much that I also became politically active, first as a board member of The Hague section of GroenLinks (GreenLeft) and since 2011 also in the City Council.

‘Over the next four years I will keep fighting to make The Hague greener, more humane and more equal. I will also campaign for the further development of The Hague as a student city, with the creation of more affordable student housing and study places.

‘If I hadn’t studied Political Science at Leiden University, I would never have taken the step into politics. And being a local councillor is the most honourable job in the world: it’s fantastic to convert the ideals of so many GroenLinks voters into concrete plans for making our city of The Hague even greener and more socially responsible.’

Marieke van Doorn (D66)

‘My name is Marieke van Doorn, aged 40, and I am a Political Scientist. I started on a dual PhD track at Leiden University a year ago, with a dissertation on leadership profiles. My supervisor is Professor Madeleine Hosli and my co-supervisor is Marc Dechesne.

‘In the City Council, I would want to fight for a better public transport network in The Hague, making it a real alternative for using a car. With more attention for people with reduced mobility, and more options for people who need or wish to travel at night. With fast light rail links between the city centre, Scheveningen, Binckhorst, Escamp and Westland, so that no-one needs to miss their connection.

D66 (Democrats 66) has made The Hague into a student city, by inviting Leiden University’s auxiliary sites with relevant specialisations to locate in the International City of Peace & Justice. To ensure that it becomes a true student city, we want students in The Hague to be engaged and committed. For this, it is handy to be present on Campus The Hague yourself on a regular basis, to hear about current issues. Such as the shortage of student housing, for instance. Our view is that this shortage must have been eliminated within two years.’

Lesley Arp (SP)

‘My name is Lesley Arp, I’m 32 years old and I studied Political Science at Leiden University. I currently have two part-time jobs: I work in City Hall as a policy maker for The Hague Socialist Party City Council group, and I also write for the SP members’ newspaper De Tribune.

‘The SP fights for more affordable housing in The Hague, including for students and first-timers. In recent years, far too little rented social housing has been built, causing the waiting lists to increase. In addition, rented housing in the free sector is unaffordable for many first-timers. The SP therefore wants more rented social housing, student housing and rented housing in the lower-cost middle segment.

What I remember most from my studies at Leiden University are the many political discussions that took place before, during and after the seminars and lectures. Many of my classmates were more on the right of the political spectrum. But learning to discuss in a respectful way with people who see society differently is, I feel, an extremely important acquisition for an aspiring city councillor.’

Gilberto Morishaw (Bond voor Studentenactie, local party leader)

'My name is Gilberto Morishaw, I’m 23 years old and am studying Public Administration at Leiden University. I’m also in the Faculty Council of FGGA, chair of the LVS (Lijst Vooruitstrevende Studenten: Progressive Students Party) and a student-fellow with the Centre for Innovation. For the next electoral period I am the local party leader of the BSA (Bond voor Studentenactie: Student Action Union) in The Hague. We founded this party ourselves a few months ago.

I’d like to see students and young people taking a greater part in politics and the decision-making process. I want to achieve this by more use of e-democracy in The Hague. When decisions are made, it is important that people can give their input. We in the BSA therefore want to create an app with which people can vote for issues that affect them directly, such as the construction of a neighbourhood park.

In my study programme, I’ve learned a great deal about how to get issues on the agenda, the pitfalls of government policy and the difficulties that are involved. My contacts with all kinds of inspiring people will also help to make the next period of the City Council a success.'

Accountability

For this article Leiden University’s news editors contacted all the political parties in The Hague and Leiden, asking them to have the questions answered by an alumnus, student or staff member of Leiden University who is on the list of candidates. Political parties that do not feature in this article do not have candidates on the list who are students, alumni or staff of the University, or they did not respond to our request.