Has Vandalising the Dorms Become Normal?

By Tom Weber

–Facebook posts about vomit in the dorm hallways or wall paintings, by self-proclaimed graffiti artists, are oftentimes seen. These are a genuine expression of the annoyance felt by AUC students for the behavior of some of their peers.

Vandalism is a frequent cause for disturbance and anger amongst members of the AUC community and a regular cause for complaints on platforms such as “The excellent and diverse people of AUC” Facebook group.

In the night of 21st of January, several glass bottles were smashed in the parking lot of the middle building of the dorms. Louise Ten Bosch, a second-year Social Science major, came forward on the Facebook group with a photograph she took of the damages, calling for the person at fault to take responsibility and reimburse her for her punctured tire. The comments she received on her post from others were affirmative and many agreed with her complaint. Ten Bosch’s need to express herself on account of the vandalism was motivated by the idea that vandalistic acts like these pose a direct threat to the respectful and unique atmosphere of the AUC dorms. “When idiots start throwing bottles out of a window and not just one but at least a dozen then it completely destroys that idea,” said Ten Bosch.

Rosan Ket, a second-year Social Science major, who opened her door one day to find a slice of pizza also took to Facebook to voice her frustration. Her post received negative and sarcastic comments, such as: “First Trump, now this; faith in humanity lost” or “Is this real or…?” each of them receiving dozens of likes,” said Ket. “I was pretty shocked by these comments and didn’t feel like I was taken seriously. Eventually, I decided to delete the post,” said Ket. She added that these, according to her, inconsiderate acts fundamentally contradict the image of the socially conscientious and considerate individuals that AUC students pride themselves of being. This included the fact that the comments on her complaint seriously disappointed her.

In an interview with The Herring, Amerens Jongsma, an AUC alumnus currently working as  Resident Assistant (RA), stated that AUC students often do not consider the consequences their vandalistic behavior might have for the people around them. “Especially with the common areas, students don’t really feel that those belong to them, so they think it’s okay to damage certain things,”said Jongsma.

Since the 13th of February 2017, housing agency DUWO has been visiting common rooms and balconies in the dorms to clean and throw out any objects that do not belong in these areas. Via their Facebook account, the AUC Tenants Association informed the AUC community that the cleaning would be free of charge. The Resident Assistant explained that many of the common areas had been downright vandalized, leaving DUWO with no choice but to arrange a thorough cleaning at its own expense.

The DUWO tenancy regulations, a set of rules tenants agree to abide by when signing their tenancy agreement, state that “[DUWO] shall maintain the rented property in good condition”. However, the regulations also say that “work [that] is necessary as a result of negligence, carelessness or improper use by the tenant [will be carried out at the expense of the latter].” So, actually the residents of the dorms should, according to the tenancy regulations, be charged for the ongoing cleaning operations. Jongsma therefore pointed out that the clean-up is a gesture of goodwill by DUWO. “AUC students often underestimate how much DUWO actually does for them,” she added.

When asked to comment on the mentioned vandalistic acts, the RA agreed that those were generally inconsiderate and harming the peaceful and productive status of communal living in the AUC dorms. She confirmed that vandalism represents a clear violation of DUWO’s tenancy regulations.

The regulations state that “all tenants exercise [the right of use of the common area(s)] with respect for each other’s rights.” Often these rights are violated in a disrespectful manner and with no regards to the consequences. “It all boils down to a sense of ownership. Because people live here for only three years, they somehow think that they are less responsible for these buildings than for the home they grew up in,” Jongsma said.

The Residence Assistants encourages students to come forward on Facebook, like Ten Bosch and Ket, to voice their complaints about these nuisances. “We can only change the situation if we constructively address these issues,” said Jongsma.

The Resident Assistants are available for counselling and advice on how to deal with vandalised property, as well as mediating between AUC students and DUWO. Their office can be found at 794a, office hours are between 19:00 and 24:00 O’clock.

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