The student accommodation for first years at Erasmus University College (EUC) is still unfinished. Many of the students still can’t move into their rooms. This week, they’re moving from their cruise ship to a hotel. And also for the students who are already living there, it still doesn’t feel like home: “The builders start drilling at 7.00 a.m. and come into the rooms without asking.”

The building at Stadhuisplein 30, opposite the Skihut, could be a fantastic place. But there’s still a long way to go. The hall is totally empty and bare, except for a noticeboard and a large table. Builders walk up and down the stairs and there’s protective plastic everywhere. On every floor, there are signs with jokey texts: “Please don’t mind the mess. Your shower should work fine.” And on the third floor, next to Faye Overbeek’s room (18, Singapore), a decorator is painting the wall along the corridor black.

Snacking in students' rooms

Sign with jokey text on the third floor of the LUCIA building. Image credit: Boris Berg

“I told Wolf, which rents out the rooms in LUCIA, that I didn’t want builders coming into my room without asking,” says Faye. “I’ve already moved all my valuable things here. Wolf said that they’d take that into account, but I frequently find builders in my room when I come back from lectures.”

These builders not only enter the students’ rooms without asking and at random times of the day, they also behave inappropriately, according to Gaia Poloni (18, Italy): “Builders who are installing something in my room often use my toilet without asking and on several occasions they’ve even eaten food that was in my room.”

Well informed

EUC dean, Maarten Frens, doesn’t think that EUC can do much for the students. “We have two Student Life Officers who can help students in the student complex when necessary,” says Frens. “But we are limited in what we can do: we’re not the owner, the landlord or even the contractor.”

He also feels that the students were well informed in advance: “They knew that work would be continuing on the fifth and sixth floors and all the rooms were more or less finished on 1 September. There’s also a code of conduct for the builders and any complaints should be submitted to the landlord Wolf.”

Late responses

Emma van der Saag in her room. Image credit: Boris Berg

However, Faye’s room wasn’t completely finished on 1 September, she says. “My bed is suspended from the ceiling and hadn’t yet been fixed when I moved into my room, so I couldn’t sleep there for three nights. The room was also very dusty and messy and my central heating didn’t work. In fact it still isn’t working.”

And the students were only told that refurbishment work would be continuing on the fifth and sixth floors, says Faye. They didn’t know that the corridors and communal areas would also be filled with building tools and construction workers. The students also claim that their complaints are often ignored or that they only receive very late responses. For example Emma van der Saag (18) from Belgium: “My toilet wasn’t working and although I received answers to my many e-mails, it took a whole week before someone came along to repair it.”

Complaints taken seriously

Marlou Snelders, project manager with the construction company Wolf (the owner and landlord of LUCIA), explains that the whole building must be finished by the end of the year. “It took much longer than planned, due to delays on various fronts: delivery time delay, unforeseen circumstances and various teething problems.”

She also admits that communication to students has not always been as it should have been: “In the first month after the students moved in (September), the building itself was everyone’s top priority and there were long delays in handling complaints. Over the past month, that’s improved: we now always respond within two days.”

Snelders feels that the one-off €200 rent discount offered to students is sufficient compensation: “Now that we are taking all their complaints seriously, the students will be much more positive. And this situation is something we have to resolve together, so we might as well be friendly to each other and listen to each other.”

Refurbishment of LUCIA building at Stadhuisplein 30. Image credit: Boris Berg