Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
Annadal: three months later
MAASTRICHT. On 1 September, when about two hundred foreign students moved into their new rooms at the Annadal complex, it turned out that the renovations had not yet been completed. Students found themselves in a mess. How are things three months on? The list of complaints has now reached “normal proportions,” they say at the Guesthouse. Although there is still one pressing issue: ventilation. “We want to be able to open our windows.”
Even though the finishing touches still need to be made, just like some paintwork here and there, the inhabitants of the two renovated buildings (217 rooms) at the campus find themselves more settled. No more daily visits from construction workers drilling and sawing, there are curtains on the windows in their bedrooms shielding against the light, and showers and toilets work.
Not only are there fewer reports from students, says Maurice Evers, department head of Student housing at Maastricht University, there are also fewer complaints from the neighbours. There is 24-hour security on the premises at Brouwersweg: one person makes the rounds and two keep watch from the main building of the Guesthouse using cameras on the grounds. “Of course this doesn't prevent all problems, but it helps. We even received compliments during our last neighbourhood information evening.” There is a winter party planned for students and residents in December.
Maastricht University sounded the alarm with the city council almost a year ago because of the persistent demand for rooms. A solution was needed before the start of the new academic year. One of the options was container accommodation in Randwyck, but the second option - expanding the Annadal campus - seemed more realistic. “At the same time, it was a mission impossible,” says Evers. The whole place had to be renovated within two months. “But, what else could we do? Have students camp out in tents? We met our objective, but the students paid a high price.” They eventually received 300 euro compensation, about equal to one month's rent.
Evers knows that, except for one student, nobody left. “And that had nothing to do with the renovations. There just wasn't a match with fellow inhabitants. In that particular case, we arranged a swap with a student from another Guesthouse building.”
Asha from France (who doesn't want her surname in the paper), an exchange student at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has lived in the building from day one. It has certainly improved, she says. She likes living there. But the problem with the windows is a persistent one. All balcony windows and doors have been locked. Fresh air now only enters through the vent holes, “provided it is windy,” the student says.
“It is on the agenda,” Evers answers. Security locks will be fitted to the windows in the bedrooms, so that they can be partially opened.
American master's student David Wen lives on the same floor as Asha. Since recently, because he exchanged a room in the lower adjoining building (four floors, 108 rooms) for the flat. The reason? Too much noise, and too small a kitchen for 27 students and especially the lack of a common room or place to study. This is not new to Evers. “As far as a common room is concerned, we had come up with a great solution in a vacant building between the other two. We even involved the students, gave them the opportunity to share good ideas. But then it turned out that there was no usage permit.” So the plan had to be shelved for the time being.