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Students protest problems at Diaconessenhouse

Following another theft and worsening living conditions, students at Diaconessenhouse are taking matters into their own hands. They have submitted a formal letter of complaint to SSH.

According to students who wish to remain anonymous for safety reasons, multiple thefts are among numerous other problems they have experienced as residents at the student house. Another robbery this past weekend has left the occupants fearing for their safety.

The unpleasant event happened in the weekend of 14th November in the B-Building of the student housing complex. Personal documents and electronic items were taken, including an identification card, a laptop, and a cell phone. The robbery was reported to the police and there is an on-going investigation, but according to police agent Bart Sikkema, the investigation will intensify if further robberies occur.

Vigilant

This is not the first robbery at the Diaconessenhouse. Multiple rooms were burglarised in the period between January 2014 and April 2015 with nine thefts and one reported assault incident. The most recent incident compelled student residents at the house to post a warning for their peers to be vigilant and to make sure their rooms are not left unattended on their communal Facebook page.

But prior to the most recent theft, residents of the 198-bed complex were already fed up with their living conditions. From broken heaters and missing kitchen appliances to cockroaches, asbestos, and suspicious additional costs, the poor living conditions prompted the students to send a co-signed complaint letter to SSH earlier this month.

‘Conditions are too bad’

In the letter, the students outline the problems in the student house and demand that action be taken: ‘We are feeling scammed because we are paying an enormous (for most of the students here) sum for this accommodation. Compared with other student houses in Groningen (closer to the city centre), or in other cities and countries (Germany, Belgium, France, etc.), the price is too high and the conditions are too bad. Very often our scholarships cover just a little part. This means we have to pay for it from our own pockets.’

The students feel that SSH has done very little to fix the problems so far, and the residents are taking the matter into their own hands. Some are refraining from making any further rent payments for their rooms until the property has been improved and requesting compensation for the conditions they have been living in.

SSH spokesperson Annemiek van Vondel says that a meeting will be held on Thursday with De Huismeesters, the owners of the property. Based upon that discussion, Van Vondel says that a response will be sent to the residents of the building about the situation on Friday. ‘We want to inform our residents first before we make any further comments’, Van Vondel says. Currently, the plan for the future of the property is to close it at some point in 2016.

18-11-2015