Diaconessenhouse students to be compensated
The decision was made during a University Council committee meeting in January. Dinie Bouwman, a member of the staff faction of the Council, proposed the idea of compensating the students for at least 150 euros for the living conditions they have faced in the residential building.
‘It was simply a good will gesture based on the argument that the students have been damaged by this, as has the reputation of the university’, Bouwman says.
Off the market
Residents of Diaconessenhouse – a mix of exchange and degree students at the RUG and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences – who lived there during the first semester of the academic year will be paid 100 euros.
RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens says that the compensation for the 195 residents will come from an international student housing account. Current and former residents have been protesting the air of disrepair in the two buildings since autumn. Issues included the discovery and removal of a small patch of loosely bound asbestos, broken blinds, out of order appliances, theft and rent prices of nearly 400 euros per month.
Diaconessenhouse will be taken off the market and demolished this summer, but international students beginning classes this semester moved in this week and it has not yet been determined if they will also be compensated.
‘The Board, also on the insistence of the Council, has promised to offer all students involved a financial compensation (100 euros per semester) and is going to meet other parties (SSH and Hanzehogeschool) to discuss whether the compensation regulation can be extended’, according to the University Council newsletter from January.
Steffy Praamstra, media spokesperson for the Hanze, confirms that the applied sciences university is also planning to offer its students 100 euros in compensation for the first semester of the academic year.
SSH communication advisor Jesse van Mourik says via email that the company has not yet received any formal requests, however. Deekens says that the university will approach SSH in the near future and ask that the housing company pay the students since the company has the bank account information for the residents. Each university will ultimately pay for their own students, Deekens says.
Paying for their own
While the sum of 100 euros has been agreed upon, the board of the RUG initially approached SSH and De Huismeesters, the housing corporation that owns Diaconessenhouse, about the possibility of lowering the rent on the rooms.
‘We were in negotiations about that but the other parties did not want to participate, so there was nothing to be achieved there.’ Bouwman says. ‘But I felt we had to compensate these students at the very least because they have been so inconvenienced, so this was really the second best option.’ When reached via telephone, De Huismeesters redirected inquiries to SSH, and SSH has yet to comment further on the matter.
Jonah Thompson, an international member of the SOG faction in the Council, says that while the party is appreciative of the swift and decisive action by the board, 100 euros per semester – which is only one-fourth of what many Diaconessenhouse tenants are paying in rent each month – is not enough.
‘While you can’t keep crying over spilled milk about a lack of compensation, the fact is that thousands of students are going to be coming to this university in the next few years’, Thompson says. ‘You really have to turn your sights to the future and to those prospective students whose opinions will be influenced by the fall out of what’s happening now.’
Boris Kyuchoukov of Lijst Calimero shares that view. ‘We see this compensation as a polite gesture on behalf of the UG, and as a way of offering apologies to its students’, Kyuchoukov says. ‘We do not, however, see it as a sufficient amount to fully compensate for the bad living conditions in the Diaconessenhouse. In that sense, we have urged the Board of Directors to continue looking for additional ways of compensating the students who will be living there.’