For the past few months, residents on the Brouwersweg have been complaining bitterly about foreign UM students. In particular the Spanish-speaking exchange students cause such a disturbance that the housing corporation of the residents concerned has installed cameras and the police are threatening to issue fines. Drunk and disorderly behaviour: 60 euros. Urinating in public: 90 euros. According to the UM, there is not much of a problem.
The inhabitants of the senior citizens' complex on the Brouwersweg, close to the Volksplein, are thinking about taking legal action. They feel they are not being heard, says city council member Kitty Nuyts, who is taking a stand for the 27 residents. “The students throw eggs against the windows, walk over cars, play extremely loud music and recently even threw a stolen bicycle over one of the balconies. When residents complain, they are given the middle finger. On average four nights a week, the senior citizens can't get a wink of sleep.”
This disturbance has actually been going on for eight years now and nobody takes their responsibility, says Nuyts, who forms the one-(wo)man Maastricht Liberal Party fraction. Housing association Maasvallei feels that the police should act more forcefully, but they have insufficient manpower and have restricted their actions to sending letters of caution to all students in the Guesthouse. The city council, according to the council member, is doing nothing because they fear this might create a student-unfriendly image. “The city derives prestige from the students’ presence, but students are just citizens too, who should refrain from anti-social behaviour.”
Maastricht University does not take its responsibility either, Nuyts feels. “It is true that the Guesthouse has given the residents a telephone number that they can dial to submit complaints, but nothing gets done with those, apart from being noted down. Why not immediately send a security guard to check and catch the rowdies by the scruff of the neck?”
“That is exactly what we do,” says Maurice Evers, head of the Guesthouse. “The only problem is that people often ring the day after and say it was a hell of a racket, but then we can’t do anything anymore. I do believe that students can be a nuisance to the residents, but what is a disturbance? Sometimes they take photographs of situations that cannot be tolerated; a while ago, I got a picture of two students sitting in a paddling pool. It is difficult for me to judge, but in general I don’t think that the situation is more serious than normal. It's the same when I look at the figures: we got four complaints in April.”
Nuyts and four residents had a discussion with mayor Onno Hoes on Tuesday afternoon. “He is taking our complaints very serious and will have a talk with the Guesthouse, Maasvallei, The Highlander pub and local residents. He is also going to investigate how to keep students who are here for a short period, more under control.”