by Ewald Engelen, Universiteit van Amsterdam

On Wednesday evening, 25 February, a group of approximately 1,500 students marched towards the main administrative building of the University of Amsterdam, on the Spui, smack in the middle of the old city centre. Two days earlier the students had been forcefully removed from another university building nearby, which was in the process of being sold off to a real estate developer who was to transform the beautiful art deco building into a private club for the rich and famous of the global film, fashion and media businesses.

That evening around 100 students huddled against the door, uncertain what to do. Suddenly the main entrance gave way, granting them access to the cavernous hallway of the building, locally known as the “Maagdenhuis” (literally “Virgin House”)–a late 18th century building which used to house a Catholic church-run facility for orphaned girls, hence the name…

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