The university therefore says that the food van’s return to campus “is not likely”. “We have chosen to concentrate entrepreneurs in the Food Plaza. We do not encourage mutual competition in terms of range of products,’’ a spokeswoman stated. The food court, which was opened three years ago, has a branch of HAS Döner Kebab.

This month De Lekkerste owners Hidayet and Ümüs Aslan, aged 66 and 59 respectively, appealed to fans of what might be called EUR’s best-known place to get some döner. The couple’s van, which used to set up next to the tennis courts five days a week, disappeared from the campus in late 2013.


The two entrepreneurs were given a choice: either to move into the food court, or to quit selling their food on campus. They chose the latter option, as the increased rent, which they say was €50,000 annually, was “unaffordable” to them. The university refused to provide any information on the “financial details”, but did say the sum mentioned by the couple was incorrect.

The university says it “understands” that the family misses its spot on the campus, but that it has done everything in its power to prevent the couple from leaving. “We had several conversations with the couple, and really looked into our options for a solution.’’

275 euro

For instance, the couple was invited to run a stand in the food court. “This proved impracticable. This had something to do with the requested opening times, a more varied range of products and the international feel of the Plaza.’’

The couple itself, which used to pay €275 per month when it set up next to the tennis courts, and saw its contract extended three times, says the reason they did not move into the food court was due to the significantly increased rent, and due to the “ridiculously high turnover” they would be required to achieve each year.

student, medewerker, eten, drinken, maaltijd, thai, vietnamees, sate, has, doner, voeding, voedsel, restaurant,
Erasmus University’s food court. Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

A spokeswoman also said that Ümüs Aslan was offered a job at HAS Döner Kebab’s branch on campus. “So that she would not have to lose touch with the campus and the students.” After all that, the municipality and the university also looked into providing the couple with another spot in the city. “In the end the couple chose not to take us up on any of that, or was unable to, probably partially because of the husband’s illness.”

Hidayet Aslan has suffered neck cancer for years now. He currently has the disease largely under control, but says it will act up during stressful times. And his more or less forced departure from the campus is causing him stress, says the entrepreneur, who started collecting signatures back in 2011. He collected 1,300 of them, something the university at the time found “a little premature, two years before anything may happen”.

Conquering the disease

The entrepreneur would be “indescribably happy” if he were allowed to return to campus. As would his wife, who from 2006 felt like a “mother” to the students. They used to tell her everything about their private lives.

The couple’s daughter, Dilek, disputes that the negotiations were unsuccessful due to her father’s disease. In March 2013, when the food van’s departure from the campus was imminent, she wrote a letter to the Executive Board, asking them to discuss the situation with her. “His work makes him feel like he may be able to conquer the disease,” she wrote. “It is his dearest wish that he’ll be able to remain on campus for a few more years.”

For the time being, his wish appears to be just that.

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