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Read about the illegal house party in Kralingen

Rector on illegal party in student house: disgraceful, ill-mannered and unacceptable

When the police tried to close down an illegal house party at Avenue Concordia in…

Avenue Concordia, where the police had to forcefully clear a house party that had gotten out of hand on Saturday, is now an oasis of calm. The outdoor terraces and the Kralingse Lake are also quiet today. There is a good-humoured atmosphere in the Albert Heijn supermarket on the Oudedijk. A number of people are wearing face masks, people patiently give each other enough space. “Can I eat this sushi tomorrow?” a student asks the sushi maker. The cooler with chilled beer is empty, except for a few six-packs of alcohol-free beer.

“Everything turns out fine in 99 out of 100 cases,” says resident Jan-Joost de Man from the Jericholaan. “But then it’s the student club night out. Testosterone soars through their bodies and there’s a lot of laughter and shouting. The party starts at 11 pm and at 4 am it’s still going on.” Five student houses have been added to his avenue over the past few years, in what has historically been a quiet part of Kralingen. “The carving up of private housing for student rooms is becoming a problem. Rich fathers buy up a building and put their son in it with three of his friends. Girls, by the way, can also make a lot of noise; those shrill voices, man oh man. But four master’s students live next door to me, they are of a totally different calibre. They’ve already let their hair down and are now more serious about their studies.”

Students of today are different

Except for the noise problems and the ‘hotch-potch of bicycles scattered all over the sidewalks’, De Man insists that he has no trouble at all with students. “The guys and girls are all treasures, but in a group, tanked up with booze, they invariably become other people. They used to be able to go to a pub with all their hormones, now they’re stuck at home. If somebody is following a lecture in their garden without headphones on, I can listen in.” Yet he finds the students of today are different from those of twenty years ago. “Like on Oostzeedijk Beneden, that 35 people are totally wasted and then get into a fistfight with the police. That’s unheard of, that just isn’t done.”

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The same goes for Tineke Speksnijder, who lives a few blocks away. “If you are so lame that you start throwing stuff at the police, you deserve to be put out with the trash. And they even cowardly snuck away!” There are also some student houses on her own street. “But that doesn’t really bother me much. As a café owner I get home late in the weekends. But if there were any problems, I would hear about it from the neighbours. There are heaps of bicycles, that’s the only thing you really notice. The atmosphere is absolutely fine, the same as it always is.”

She does have concerns for the hospitality sector if the corona measures are further tightened. “Now I see and hear house parties everywhere when I cycle home, even outside of Kralingen. And that’s not just the youth, other people are also organising full-on discos at home.  On the one hand, I think: Act normal! But I also understand that they are fed up with it all. I am fed up too, with correcting people all the time and only having twenty-four people in my café.”

'The neighbourhood has changed'

Rita Schriemer has been living on Avenue Concordia since 2001 and has seen her street and surrounding neighbourhood change with the arrival of numerous student houses. “This actually started once the basic student grant was abolished in 2015. Parents bought a house for their children so that they could pursue their studies. That created a domino effect and now you see that houses that are for sale are just bought by speculators or by parents. You then end up with houses where the owner has no interest at all in the neighbourhood and just profits from the revenue.”

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Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

This is a huge difference compared to the times when there were mostly established houses run by student groups. “We live next to such a house. But they have a board of ex-members, a house elder -and they come by each year to politely introduce themselves. That is a whole different arrangement than living in a single room in anonymity. If they go and throw a party once a year, the neighbourhood turns a blind eye then.” Those student group houses are now suffering from the disruption caused by ‘non-official’ student houses. “Nowadays they get complaints about disturbances way sooner because people get fed up with that kind of thing very quickly. It also reflects on them.”

Bicycles all over the place

She explains that this is because the so-called room-letting of private housing leads to a lot of clutter on the street. “Bicycles all over the place, shopping carts, overstuffed rubbish bins. Those are the consequences of overcrowding. The public space is not designed for so many people. And then there are the noise problems caused by lifestyles that run separately from each other, by people who come back one by one utterly drunk on a Thursday night.”

According to her, this has an impact on the atmosphere in the neighbourhood. “Kralingen is a village, people greet each other. People don’t like it when people come live here in anonymity and don’t say hello to their neighbours but toss their bikes on the sidewalk. It’s just turning into a campus where the atmosphere in the public space is mainly determined by students, even though that’s not the only group living here. That’s how things are in this street, but also in the Lambertusstraat and Waterloostraat.”

Police officer pelted with garbage

She only became aware of the evacuation of the RSC house at Oostzeedijk Beneden once the police arrived. “It’s certainly not right what happened there. But it has already been going on for months now with the number of parties that are thrown here. This hit the news because the police were pelted with stuff. But to be honest, we haven’t experienced any trouble from this incident at all. The party is not an outburst or incident. A student house on the Annastraat once hosted a festival in the courtyard garden for two hundred students with a DJ. I find that sort of thing much worse, yet in the current corona times, a lot of attention is being paid to social get-togethers. Of course, that is a good thing, but as a close neighbour I don’t really have any noticeable problems from any of that, apart from the dangers to public health.”

From house party to house party

Not far from where she lives, Eckhart Vlaming, an econometrics master’s student, lives on the Honingerdijk together with two other students. “The other day, I had my student club here, but I kicked them out at 11 pm. I did this for my neighbours. We all live here with other students, but with families and elderly people too. But I also did it so that they wouldn’t trash my house.” As far as social cohesion is concerned, his street is doing just fine. “Some neighbours recently laid a few gable gardens, that looks really nice. I did support them by signing something, but I didn’t have time to help. My schedule is jam-packed.”

He seldom goes to house parties these days. “I could go to a party tonight, but I’ve been working for five days in a row and I’m finishing off my thesis, which actually coincides quite nicely with that second wave that’s coming up right now.” However, he does notice that social contact still goes on unabated in his neighbourhood. “One hundred percent. You have people who just go from house party to house party. Student associations are recruiting now, so there’s plenty of stuff being organised.”

How does he view the carving up of private housing for student rooms and the studentification of Kralingen? “It’s still hard to find a room and I do actually know parents of friends who bought a house back then. If students behave properly, which they normally do in Kralingen, I fail to see why it would be inherently problematic.”