| Niels ter Meer

It’s a bad time to stop being cheap and decide to heat your room to a comfortable temperature. But because you’re not a full citizen, but a student, that’s going to cost you. Student columnist Niels ter Meer (23) doesn’t think that’s fair.


Hopefully and/or sadly relatable: you’re reading the news source for the informed UT student, and you discover that, once again, you are being cheated out of your money. Previously, it was just the fact that you had the courage to study, now it’s the energy prices. Almost like we’re not considered full members of society — we are no burgers.

The energy subsidies the government intends to provide to those particularly impacted by those costs, are intended for ‘independent households’ (which usually doesn’t apply to students). On top of that, municipalities are also allowed to exclude certain groups from those subsidies — which probably means they will exclude students and/or people younger than 21 years old here as well.

It’s not like this is unexpected; as alluded to, this fits into a wider pattern. Every time something’s up, the same groups get excluded from aid. (Remember, those people younger than 21 aren’t entitled to the same full rent subsidies as others) The reasons are facially valid: Dutch students have access to study financing, and parents of people younger than 21 are legally obligated to support their children. However, these distinctions institute a chasm between ‘normal’ citizens, and the ‘other’ ones.

But it’s not like it’s completely the government’s fault; students (or rather a subset of them) insist, for their own reasons, to keep this distinction alive. Studentikoos — student like — is a nice excuse for bad behaviour at times, after all. Also, if someone receives their degree and enters the workforce, they are called ‘burgers’ by the students they leave behind, as they are no longer able to participate in all the great things student life has to offer. No late night parties; work calls in the morning.

However, there are still students who for all intents and purposes can be considered burgers. They don’t conform to the stereotypical image of a student: they wake up at a reasonable hour (or at least attempt to), don’t insist on drinking at every opportunity, consider studying as a job (since formally it’s a full time occupation), and maybe most importantly, are directly responsible for their own energy bills. No student housing to hide behind. They run into the same problems as ‘normal’ burgers: exorbitant energy bills due to a fossilized energy infrastructure, with leaky radiator valves, and no relief in sight — but having to endure it without government support, only because they have access to some other pit of money.

This is not something we would ask of any other group of citizens. No one in their right mind would ask families at the social minimum to take out a loan for these kinds of things. Not freezing your ass off is an investment in yourself of course!

For as long as the ‘student’ distinction is alive in everyone’s mind, we can wave the aid we should be entitled to goodbye. Why it’s a debate every single time whether the government should consider us full citizens — burgers — is beyond me, but we should insist that they do. We are already working our asses off, we deserve not having them freeze off too.

Stay tuned

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.