MAASTRICHT. One of the tips is to exchange mobile phone numbers. The neighbour concerned is then able to phone the student when there is a problem with noise. Nine times out of ten, the music will be turned down. A year ago, there was a meeting at city hall regarding Student & Stad, a project by Maastricht University, the city council and other parties. Last Thursday, participants met again to take stock.
Last year, many neighbourhood representatives spoke out. They had something to say about annoyance caused by students. Carol Berghmans from the Boschstraatkwartier – in the past his neighbourhood platform sent a pressing letter to mayor Onno Hoes – saw his neighbourhood change into a student district. The same applied to Limmel and Brusselsepoort. What was needed in particular, it appeared, was a club where foreign students could meet and more information from the city council.
There are fewer neighbourhood platforms this Thursday 25 September, but there is a full Maastricht student council and a handful of other students. The most important question: what action has been taken? Better to be a good copycat than a bad inventor, the project group must have thought, because they went looking for successful examples in cities such as Groningen, Delft and Nijmegen, in order to reduce the ‘perceived’ annoyance caused by students. In the meantime, quite a few examples have been copied in Maastricht: recurring information campaigns (mayor Onno Hoes speaks to all first-year students about the rules every year) and visible involvement between students and traditional residents, for example with Neighbourhoods Day, and initiatives such as Student & Society (SSI). Third success factor: dealing with reports of disturbance. “Last year we gained insight into the hotspots, locations from which we receive a substantial number of reports,” says student liaison officer Paul Vermin. “An x number of buildings appeared to be the problem. We went to check things out and gave the inhabitants a clear warning. Our advice was to solve problems, to talk with your neighbours. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn’t. Fines were issued and the amounts were not to be frowned upon.”
Mutual understanding and entering into dialogue. It is a kind of mantra that is repeated time and again this Thursday evening. “Let your neighbours know on time when you are planning a party, invite them if that’s what it takes. That is better than an angry neighbour who phones the police.” At the same time: as a ‘Maastricht citizen’, put a note in the letterbox of the neighbouring student building, let them know when you are planning a noisy family BBQ.
Have the housing corporation give a brochure to every new inhabitant with information about when rubbish and waste paper are collected, a member of the Maastricht Student Council (MSR) suggests, “or hand it out when they register with the city council”.