From Common Rooms to Living Rooms and Event Spaces – The Herring Answers the Most Urgent Questions

By Anna Debeye

Collage by Adèle Issman

The AUC dorms are home to 36 living rooms (previously known as common rooms) and 15 balconies that students are able to use in addition to their own room. Most students and committees are unfamiliar with the pre-pandemic use of the shared areas and are left confused about the ongoing changes. The Herring talked to representatives of DUWO, AUC, and AUCSA in order to answer the most urgent questions students may have about the use of the shared spaces in the dorms.  

What is the current situation regarding the living rooms and balconies in the AUC dorms?

On 29 December 2022, a DUWO newsletter was sent to all students in the dorms explaining that rules have been drawn up regarding the usage of living rooms and balconies. These rules can be found on the windows of these spaces (see below). Many of the rules are not new, but DUWO will now be enforcing them more strictly. Common rooms will now be referred to as living rooms by DUWO and are mainly meant to be used by the tenants of a string as an extension of their room, rather than solely for parties and other events. In strings that do not have a string representative, the shared areas have been closed until the start of the next academic year.

Why did DUWO decide to implement stricter rules this year?

DUWO has been unhappy about the way the shared areas have been used over the past years. They are meant to be a space for people to get together, but have instead been increasingly used as a place to dump waste. Both DUWO and AUC wished for this situation to improve and to make these spaces into something nice and usable. Although not all common areas were trashed, all areas are now under stricter supervision and will be checked regularly by DUWO to ensure that they stay clean. If this does not happen, DUWO has the right to close the spaces.

The shared areas are offered to AUC students at no additional costs, hence why DUWO has now decided to take charge of the situation. Since all shared spaces were closed during the pandemic, DUWO has attempted to get students’ help in order to clean up these areas, but for many students the mess was too much to take care of. By taking over, DUWO wishes to change the current use of the spaces. 

The larger living rooms in the middle building will be turned into event spaces. What does this mean?

In order to provide committees with a space for events, AUC has decided to change the three large living rooms in the middle building, with a capacity of 75 people, into event spaces that are to be used by committees rather than solely by string members. One of the rooms will most likely become a theatre space with a stage and a beamer, allowing for people to perform there and organise movie screenings. The second room will include a fully stocked kitchen and a few tables in order for dinners to be hosted there. The last space will stay empty, allowing for yoga or dance classes to be organised in it. 

What do all these changes mean for committees? 

Living rooms are first and foremost aimed at the tenants of a string and are only allowed to be used by committees if all string members agree on this and give the committee permission to use the space. Committees without a room of their own will be able to use the event spaces to host their activities. AUC will reach out to the committees about how best to renovate these spaces once a clear plan has been established by the university on how to use the rooms. Larger events such as Dormsessions will have to be hosted outside of the dorms, as the capacity limit forbids events with more than 75 guests to take place. 

Who is paying for the renovation of the event spaces?

Towards the end of 2022, DUWO renovated nine living rooms and put wooden benches and tables on almost all the balconies. These renovations were organised and paid for by DUWO. The renovations of the event spaces, however, are to be paid by AUC and AUCSA. AUCSA is allocating 700 euros of their budget to be invested in these rooms and this amount will be matched by AUC. DUWO has agreed to provide paint and AUC will provide old furniture from the Academic Building to be used in these spaces. 

What is the position of the students living in the dorms regarding all of these changes?

Incentives by DUWO to get the tenants of the dorms to clean up the shared areas have been largely unsuccessful and the housing organisation therefore took charge towards the end of last year. With the help of the designer Annemarie Janssen and the recycling company Rottzooi, DUWO (project leader: Inoek Brouwer) renovated nine living rooms. Students could apply for their living room to be renovated and were asked for their preferences regarding the space, but were not in charge of the complete design. DUWO and AUC state that they did not make large changes to the balconies and living rooms without first consulting string members.

For the event spaces, AUC will ask committees for input once the designs are ready. When the renovations are complete, it will also become standard procedure during the room selection period to list the rooms in the strings around these spaces as loud rooms to ensure that prospective students know what to expect when they choose to live in these strings. Individual moves can possibly be facilitated for those students already living in these strings.  

What is happening next?

The communication between DUWO, AUC, and the student body has been poor thus far. Monthly meetings with DUWO, the AUCSA, and the Student Council may be organised starting next month, which will allow for input from string representatives and other students to be shared with DUWO. 

Committees that are not able to use their common room anymore can store their materials in one of the living rooms that has been assigned by DUWO for that purpose. Once the larger event spaces are in full use, AUC will send out an announcement and allow committees to use this space for their equipment. 

All shared areas will be closed in June, but a few living rooms will be used as furniture drop-off points so that students can recycle furniture. The event spaces will remain open over the summer. Next academic year the shared spaces will be opened again, but only if a string has a representative that can pick up the key.  

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