RUG: Compensation ‘in a matter of weeks’

Following recent talks about compensating students living in the Diaconessenhouse, the process of repaying residents is picking up momentum.

RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens says that the compensation should take place in a matter of weeks. Students who lived there during the first semester will receive 100 euros from either the University of Groningen or Hanze University of Applied Sciences, depending on where they studied. Since collecting contact information for the first semester students is more difficult than it is for the current residents, it may take a little longer for the first semester students to get paid, Deekens says.

Financial contribution

For the second semester, 150 euros will be paid to the students in the form of a one-time reduction from their monthly rent. SSH’s contribution will be for the second semester, says Jolien Stokroos, the manager of the Groningen branch of the housing provider.

Deekens adds that talks with VolkerWessels, the owners of the buildings, and De Huismeesters, the company renting the buildings to SSH, about whether they will also make a financial contribution are ongoing. De Huismeesters did not respond to the UK’s requests for comment.

How and when

Representatives of the RUG, Hanze and SSH Groningen agreed earlier this year that the residents of the Diaconessenhouse should be compensated for the duration of their stay, and the three parties met again this month to discuss how much money the students would receive and when.

The money from the universities and SSH, or the one-time lowered rental price, is intended as a gesture of goodwill toward the students who have been living in the buildings this past year. Issues including theft, dissatisfaction with the high price of rent and the discovery of a small patch of loosely-bound asbestos led to threats from some residents to withhold their rent last fall until SSH made certain repairs to the facilities.

Mixed reactions

Reactions among the current residents are mixed. Sinéad Haegeland, a RUG exchange student from the United States, says, ‘I am staying in Groningen only during the second semester, but so far, I am really unhappy with the building. Students definitely need to be compensated. Besides the terrible conditions, there is constant construction outside.’

For Poppy Murray, a RUG student in the European Languages and Culture programme also living in the house, the decision to compensate students is logical. ‘I am very happy that the university has decided to compensate us 100 per semester. I was previously very angry that they had recommended SSH as the only viable option for international first year students – I have since found out otherwise. The compensation goes some way in restoring my faith that the university was previously unaware of the extent of the conditions in Diaconessenhouse’, says Murray.