The most pressing issue – and not just for students – is housing. The new coalition feels the housing plan needs to be overhauled. And all 4 parties promise a ‘vigorous’ continuation of construction activities. Building work for 3,500 to 4,000 homes will commence annually and this includes 400 student rooms.
The Rotterdam student union STUUR rightly notes that these efforts don’t make much of a dent. That’s because forecasts show that in about 6 years, there will be around 4,500 additional students looking for housing. And there’s already a housing shortage now. You don’t have to be a math whizz to see that 400 new rooms a year won’t solve the housing problem for students.
Another plan is to allow converting houses for multiple occupants to a greater extent. A permit shall then be needed for renting rooms to 4 or more occupants. Right now, a permit is needed for 3 or more. But this isn’t a lasting solution. Students will then be at the mercy of landlords, and in some neighbourhoods, tensions between local residents and students are already running high. Partitioning houses for even more occupants isn’t something all neighbours will appreciate.
There’s also another plan for more student housing: building a student campus. Many of the office buildings at the Brainpark have been empty for some time now, and the municipality wants to convert them into homes. At least 600 would be earmarked for students. That plan has already been drawn up and has also already been approved by the previous administration.
Rotterdam’s nightlife and the previous coalition weren’t the best match, and that’s putting it mildly. Much to everyone’s relief, it’s once again possible to go out dancing and the grumbling has receded into the background. But it wasn’t that long ago that an angry party crowd assembled at City Hall to protest how the city was killing off Rotterdam’s nightlife. The new coalition promises that this is going to change.
A ‘nightlife plan’ is being prepared and the parties pledge at least 10 new 24-hour licenses for hospitality and entertainment establishments in the coming period. That will create more opportunities to go to nightspots allowed to keep their doors open until late in the night. An additional festival location on the outskirts of the city is also being explored. From now on, all-night convenience stores will be allowed to remain open until 6 in the morning.
And there are several plans to combat street harassment, an issue that was also a focus area for the previous coalition. The plans feature training special enforcement officers, the presence of stewards at nightspots, and offering a secure location at busy nightlife centres where people can go if they feel unsafe.
A metro that operates all night will get you home safely after a night out. It remains to be seen if this metro line will also run from Woudestein campus to Zuid using the new riverbank connection meant to connect Kralingen with Zuid.
The new Culture Campus will also be coming to Zuid. This was already in the works, but the new coalition emphasises that the development work will continue. The coalition agreement also expresses support for ‘the convergence‘, a collaboration involving Erasmus University, Erasmus MC, and TU Delft.
What’s most interesting about such an agreement is what it doesn’t say, or when it clearly shifts responsibility. Showing off a cosmopolitan Rotterdam is clear enough in the plans. But the agreement says nothing about ensuring international students are able to find housing and get appropriate assistance. The agreement states: “We urge Erasmus University and the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences to take responsibility for (international) student housing”. In other words: Dear institutions of higher learning, it’s your problem now.
The plans also don’t say much about nuisance caused by students in Kralingen, for example. The new coalition will go ahead with plans to continue with the ‘student-stewards’ who will keep an eye on things at night and urge noisy drunks to go home.