Lars van Reijen, Lisa van den Eijnden and Dionysia Dinius conducted a study into student nuisance in Kralingen. They concluded that the main cause of such problems is the low social cohesion in the neighbourhood. Their proposal, an online platform called Student Services, would create more solidarity, resulting in less nuisance.

Strooisel-Kralingen-sociale cohesie-buurtbewoners-studenten service-overlast_Josine Henneken
Image credit: Josine Henneken

The conducted the research for their faculty’s Design Atelier. They do not live in the neighbourhood themselves, although Lars did live on Lambertusstraat in Kralingen for a year. “So I am aware of the problems between students and local residents”, he says. “Our house fortunately had a good relationship with the neighbours. We partied sometimes, but if there were any complaints that the music was too loud, for example, we turned the volume down right away or turned it off altogether. The problem never got out of hand in our case.”

Little contact

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Image credit: Own picture

When the students began their study, they had no idea about how to tackle the problem. “Our first thought was obviously measures: should we issue more fines to students? Should there be stricter noise standards, or should we make the walls thicker?”, Lisa recalls.

They talked to all the parties involved in Kralingen: students, non-students, the municipality, student associations, the neighbourhood council, and residents’ organisations. “From the various conversations we understood that the problem mainly arises because there is little contact between students and the other residents”, says Lars. “And any contact they do have is often negative, as it concerns the nuisance”, Lisa adds. “We consequently concluded: we need to create a better relationship between students and the other residents.”

Student Services

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Lars van Reijen Image credit: Own picture

The students see Student Services as a possible solution. “It is an online platform where students can offer their services to local residents, such as walking the dog, doing odd jobs or household chores, babysitting or helping to fill in tax returns”, Lars explains. “That way, students can become more involved with their environment and their neighbours.”

In a survey, they asked the opinion of both students and other residents. “Most of the residents are very positive about the idea. Their needs and wishes vary, of course: one may need a babysitter, while someone else might need someone to clean the windows for them”, Lisa says. “And as a student, I also know that those kinds of jobs are fun to do. I would love to babysit or do some tutoring.”

Platform website

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Dionysia Dinius Image credit: Own picture

The students hope that the municipality or the university will develop their Student Services idea. Dionysia has already created a design of the website as an example of what the platform could look like. “Unfortunately, we are not able to actually build and manage a website ourselves, so sadly nothing will be done with Dionysia’s design for the time being”, says Lars. “It would be nice if one of the parties involved could develop this idea further.”

Rotterdam municipality and the Kralingen district council are pleased with the study. “It offers us new perspectives from the students’ own living environment”, says Rens van Overdam, chair of the neighbourhood council. “To create sufficient support and supply, it would be good if students could further organise this initiative themselves. The neighbourhood council and municipality can of course help with that.”

The municipality and the neighbourhood council are currently discussing the Student Services idea with student associations, the university and the residents’ group STOK.