“Four men appeared on our floor and said that everyone had to vacate the building,” says Health Care Management master student Amie Vroonland (23). On Thursday evening, Vroonland was on the first floor of the Polak Building when she was suddenly instructed to go outside.
“They didn’t explain a thing, the only thing they told us was that we needed to leave the building as quickly as possible. They did give me time to gather my things together before I left. The fact that they didn’t tell us anything did make it a bit weird. I remember a friend of mine saying: ‘Imagine if it’s someone who wants to do something dangerous’.”
We presently know that the safety of the Polak Building’s floor structure couldn’t be guaranteed. The structural design is similar to the one used in the car park near Eindhoven Airport, which collapsed in May of this year. This led to the Executive Board’s decision to evacuate the building on Erasmus Plaza.
“It all went pretty quickly, meaning that some students were forced to leave their belongings behind,” says EUR spokesman Jacco Neleman. The University has arranged for these items to be brought to the offices of building security, where they can be picked up.
But it turns out that some items haven’t been removed yet. A female student walks into the guardhouse, asking for her books. She left them in one of the lockers of the Polak Building. To no avail: “We haven’t cleared those out yet, unfortunately.” She’ll have to wait and see where things go from here.
“I was on the verge of tears”
Nor do the entrepreneurs set up on Polak’s ground floor know precisely what to expect. Hairdresser Lydia, who runs a salon in the building’s Shopping Plaza, was forced to close up early yesterday evening. She was working on a customer when someone from Security asked her to leave the building. “That gave me a terrific scare – I was on the verge of tears. But the security staff remained very calm and were friendly. They allowed me to finish my customer’s hair, after which I had time to close up and leave.”
“Yesterday evening the security staff couldn’t tell us what was going on. But they did put me at ease. Now we have to wait. This morning we met up with the other shop owners in the Polak Building for a cup of coffee. Knowing that the floor is in danger of collapsing, we reckon that it will take some time before we’re allowed back in. We haven’t been told yet what happens next.”
Lydia has received lots of heart-warming responses from her customers. “At least a hundred. They kept coming in, all night long. Everyone’s very sympathetic and super nice. Even people who are no longer at EUR – but still get me to do their hair – have dropped a line.”