Beer, weed, and police
How Acero turned into a student flat
When Jorn Smit received the key to his room on the eighth floor of the newly renovated Acero building on March 15, it was the first time he actually saw his new home. Because of the pandemic, viewings were done with 3D photos: he could virtually visit the rooms on one of the hallways. ‘But I had no idea which room was going to be mine’, says the first-year student in business administration.
The rooms around him were empty. The kitchens had brand new refrigerators, and the common room looked like an IKEA catalogue. But there were no students.
‘I lived alone for the first two weeks’, he says. ‘That’s when the second student moved in, and the third one showed up in April. It’s still just the three of us.’
Housing corporation Lefier only allows sixty new renters a week, in an effort to prevent the building from being overrun by people moving in and the elevators – which go to all eight floors – from being in use all the time.
Beer crates are a sure sign people are living there
It’s okay, says Jorn. ‘If you’re looking for something a little more fun, it’s easy’, he says. You can watch football elsewhere in the building, for example. ‘But when it’s quiet I can focus on studying. It’s kind of a luxury, really.’
Jorn’s floor may be nice and quiet, but elsewhere, the building is becoming a typical student flat.
‘The kitchens are a good yardstick’, says second-year law student Bart Pastoor, who was appointed a room on the fourth floor. There are currently five people living on his block. ‘If there are dirty dishes and beer crates, you can tell that people are living there.’
Bart and his roommates have divided the kitchen cabinets and shelves in the fridge and got a planner to write down the cleaning roster. ‘We’ve also already had a house meeting. We’re basically trying to make our block into a regular student house’, he says. Including anytimers for people who break the rules.
Student of society, sustainability and planning Tabea is also settling in nicely. She regularly gets together with her roommates for dinner or drinks. They also added some folding chairs to the common room. When the new oven Lefier had installed in the kitchens didn’t work to their satisfaction, they pooled their money to buy a new one. ‘We couldn’t even warm up a pizza in there.’
Off the balcony
Now that the building is filling up, some floors have become party floors. One floor even threw their oven, which also wasn’t working well, off the balcony out of frustration. Other people threw beer bottles out the window. ‘Some time ago there was a lot of glass pieces and broken beer bottles at the entrance’, says Tabea. ‘I had to carry my bike to the entrance for over a week.’
I’m glad the parties aren’t on my floor
‘A roommate of mine told me he’d jump into a pool of mud if the group chat reached a hundred members’, says Bart. ‘And he did! Everyone was looking at him from their windows and clapping.’
Which floors are the wildest? The first three, Tabea thinks. ‘They drink a lot and have a lot of wild parties. Every single day. I am happy that it’s not on my floor. Plus, it’s filthy over there.’
Definitely ‘downstairs’, says Bart. ‘I’ve been down there once or twice. Fortunately, we don’t hear the parties in the kitchen or our rooms.’
Last week, a birthday party that was spread out over several floors got so out of hand that the police showed up. They put an end to the party and fined more than twenty students. Neighbours had called the police to complain.
‘It did escalate a bit’, one of the partygoers admits. ‘There were a lot of people there who don’t live here, and they didn’t give a crap about being quiet. They turned the volume up.’
This wasn’t the first time the police showed up, either. Nevertheless, the students aren’t particularly understanding of the police’s actions. ‘It’s messed up that the police hand out fines in a building with only students. Come on, we’re young and we’ve been cooped up for ages’, says a student who only just managed to escape getting fined. ‘This is just for a little while. Once the clubs open back up, the building won’t be as busy.’
Another student was simply visiting someone when he ran into the police as he was getting a snack from the kitchen. ‘I was in the wrong place at the wrong time’, he grumbles. ‘I heard the cops didn’t even issue any warnings.’
In the meantime, both the city and Lefier have come up with measures aimed at containing the students. All floors received a letter from the city that said that if they continued to be a nuisance, they might revoke the rental permit for the building.
The smell of weed lingers in the hallway
Lefier has now employed student managers to make sure everyone abides by the rules. ‘They’re being a bit extreme with that’, says Tabea.
Her floor recently received an admonishing note that claimed the common room was a mess. The extra folding chairs, there so everyone would have a place to sit during a shared meal, had to go. ‘We are not allowed to add extra things’, she says. ‘But we want to make it homey when we are in our living room.’
One time, a student manager showed up and complained about the dirty dishes in the kitchen. ‘But we were still eating. Of course we hadn’t done the dishes yet.’
The managers also call out people on all the smoking they do in the building, but Tabea doesn’t mind that. ‘A lot of people smoke inside with their doors closed, but we can still smell it because of the circulation system. The smell of weed just lingers in the hallway.’
She mainly dislikes the fact that she doesn’t know who the managers are. ‘But they are students that live in the building, just like us.’
Nevertheless, Tabea is happy with her room in Acero. ‘I really like it. It’s a nice place to meet others, because there are so many students. And most internationals don’t even know about it.’
The party students are also still happy. Although whiny people shouldn’t make too much of a ‘fuss’, one of them says. ‘I don’t like it.’