The videos show how the police dispersed a group of several dozen students in the building’s courtyard. “Disproportionately violent”, according to some residents. “A student who was simply studying in the common area was also fined. The police entered students’ rooms uninvited where the doors were open, and two guys were held in a chokehold.”

On the other hand, residents also admit that one of those guys had already incurred fines more than once and sometimes tries to get into a drunk ‘discussion’ with the police when they turn up. A resident who wants to remain anonymous describes how he and other students tried to run away from the common area when the police arrived, whereupon the officers went after them: “Since the officers were not wearing face masks and got close to us, we felt that we were at extra risk of being infected. If there had been no threat of fines, I think we would have just listened to the officers.”

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Hassles almost every week

A police spokesperson says that the police need to take action in the Xior building practically every week: “Since September, officers have been going there almost every week, and again just last Tuesday. There were complaints about noise disturbances and so the police went to check up. Eleven people were stopped and fined. The police are fed up with it but can’t do any more about it for the time being.”

Many students in Xior are used to the fact that the police frequently visit the complex. Resident Luke says: “We are a close-knit community here in Xior and we meet up on a daily basis. It is impossible to stick to the rules since we live so close together, and often form close groups of friends. So, I don’t think we are going to stop hanging out, but maybe it will be a bit less because people are going home for Christmas.”

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‘Completely irresponsible'

entrance xior
An appeal at the entrance of the student complex. Image credit: Wouter Sterrenburg

Other residents have a very different perspective on the matter. For example, student Mia thinks it is ‘completely irresponsible’ behaviour. “These partygoers live in a kind of bubble where the whole pandemic doesn’t seem to matter, I think. They are very young, away from their parents for the first time and have no sense of responsibility. That they still continue to meet up in large groups, while ten thousand people a week are getting Covid is utterly incomprehensible.”

Residents Andy and Chang mention that there is also quite a bit of discussion internally about the party behaviour of certain residents. “A great deal of discussion is taking place in WhatsApp groups, but it never stops the partying students meeting in large groups nor makes them abide by the rules. These residents, and sometimes their friends, are mostly first-year students and they’re very naive. I don’t think they are going to stop hanging out together. Otherwise, they would have reacted sooner to the letter we got from the university and the landlord, or to the fines that people get.”

Response from the university

“We have seen the images near the Xior building next to the campus and we are really shocked and outraged by it all, because we have often called our students out on this,” says Erasmus University spokesperson Rateb Abawi. “Organising an illegal party during a lockdown is irresponsible and unacceptable. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the ignoring of police officers’ instructions. Since the beginning of the corona crisis, the Executive Board has actively reminded everyone of their responsibility to follow the measures. The majority of our students accept their responsibility and do abide by the measures.”

The spokesperson stresses that residents have already been called to account for their behaviour: “We have discussed this with them on several occasions. We have also put this in writing. For instance, by sending a letter and email in November to all residents of the Xior and Hatta buildings and to all the students about this. We intend to keep discussing this with our students. Apart from that, we are in close contact with the managers of the student flats. On Thursday morning, the EUR will confer with these managers and the police to examine what additional measures the managers of the student flats can take over the coming period.”

Covid infections

Xior facade
The Xior complex adjacent to the university campus. Image credit: Wouter Sterrenburg

On balance, all parties involved agree that law enforcement has had little impact in discouraging large gatherings so far. Resident Konstantin suggests that the ‘partying’ residents are also taking the virus seriously, despite the fact that they are meeting up in groups: “When there were some Covid cases in the building, others and I immediately went into quarantine and I had myself tested. Negative, luckily. It is not the case that we are going about the pandemic completely irresponsibly. We mainly just want to socialise with each other, since it’s a core part of being a student. We would have gotten depressed a long time ago if we hadn’t been able to do that. So that is why we would like to sit down with the university and the building manager to see whether this can be worked out in such a way that we can keep seeing each other in groups, but that the police no longer have to turn up.”

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