Forgotten February

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was written by a student unaffiliated with The Herring, and edited by staff. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect The Herring’s.

By Erika Persson

— It is halfway through January, and the students at Amsterdam University College are now in the second week of their intensive courses, the last ones in the careers of the February graduates from the class of 2017. For some students, the intensive period means a month of rather relaxed studies, while preparing for the coming spring semester. For others, the month is more stressful, and for some February students, who were looking forward to an enjoyable last period, January has now turned into a time of increased anxiety, and uncertainty about the near future. In the final days of 2016, the graduating students were told that they were required to move before February 1st, 2017 – two days into the final week of the intensive period.

Until November of last year, the February graduates were under the impression that they would have the spring semester to move out of the rooms and find new housing. Then, in the middle of November, an e-mail was sent out from the student housing organisation DUWO, together with AUC, which stated that the preferred moving-out date was the 31st of December. The date was not mandatory and therefore students were required to fill in a form on their personal DUWO web page, where they could submit their intended day of departure from the dorms. Shortly after filling in the forms, several students received confirmation e-mails, stating that the moving-out dates on their personal accounts had been changed to the day they would move out.

The 2017 January intensive period at AUC spans from the 9th of January until the 3rd of February, and for the students, this means that they have nearly four weeks to manage a full 6 credits course. As many of the February graduates still have another class to go at AUC, most messaged DUWO to inform them that they preferred the moving-out date be around the 6th of February. This would give them time to finalize their studies and still have the weekend to move out, while making sure that their rooms are in a decent shape for the next tenant.

On the 11th of January, all of the February graduates received another email from DUWO, announcing that their current contract will end on the 1st of February, and that the final inspection would be the on the day before. This meant that the required moving-out date now fell in the middle of the final week of the intensive period.

The email also contradicted earlier information: when logging into their personal DUWO profiles, many of the February graduates were surprised to see that the moving-out date had reverted back to the date stated in the recent email. When they expressed their concerns to DUWO, they received a cold and unprofessional response about this not being of their concern. Students also told that the new tenants had already been informed about the moving-in dates being the first days of February, and that in essence, there wasn’t much they could do about it at that point in time.

AUC promotes itself as a resident school, where students are required to be registered at one of the rooms at the Carolina MacGillavrylaan housing complexes for the entire duration of their studies. It is hence remarkable how little interest both the college and DUWO seem to have of making sure that the February graduates have a dignified end of their years as bachelor students. When one of the students informed an AUC staff member about the issue via e-mail, they directly handed over all responsibility back to DUWO, even going as far as to suggest that the student could look into moving out the weekend before, and possibly spending the last week of AUC with friends. An indecent suggestion, given that upon registering at the school, students were required to sign agreements that they would stay in the dorms until they have finalized their studies.

Furthermore, a closer look into the contract that the February graduates signed with DUWO reveals that, in point 2 of the Terms of Tenancy Agreements, it is stated that the termination of tenancy ought to be the first of the month following the date of finalized studies. In other words, as the February graduates complete their final course on the 3rd, this should mean that they are supposed to have the right to stay in their rooms until the end of February. In comparison, for the June graduates the moving-out date is set for the 11th of July, which gives them more than a week before they will have to vacate their rooms.

For a February starter student, this insult wraps up years of what has been experienced as neglect. With a study program designed for those who begin their studies in the beginning of September, together with a resistance to cooperation from both AUC and DUWO, the end has become rather bitter for some of the students. The February graduate pays equally as much in tuition fees and rent as any other AUC student, and should naturally also be treated equally. As third-year Social Sciences student Joon Colaianni stated: “I’m fine with a mediocre introduction week and I’m fine with not getting any graduation ceremony only for us. But at least don’t throw us out on the streets!”

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