Thinking that you’re in an “earthquake” because they’re jumping on the ground with two thousand students at the same time. “Sleep with beer fumes in your nose” because at night dozens of liters of malt liquor are thrown into the building next to you.
Noor Wiersma, 61, a mother of three in Amsterdam, lacks examples of nearly thirty years of living next door to “the largest drinking palace in the Netherlands”. Sometimes her words drown in the excited voices of students, strewn from the cramped Warmoesstraat. Wiersma quickly closes double-glazed windows. This makes a difference.
Unlike most other students in the Netherlands, the Amsterdamsch Studenten Corps (ASC) is directly bordering a dozen homes, in the heart of the city. “Of course we realize that you can’t expect absolute silence here, but next to the wire it’s running out of momentum,” Wersma says. Between the ASC and the neighbourhood, a mixed group of ex-squatters, artists and typical Amsterdam entrepreneurs in the red-light district, there has been a strained relationship lately, without the municipality’s involvement.
More than an ordinary ongoing conflict
When the ASC grabbed negative news headlines at the end of July with statements about women as “buckets of semen,” it wasn’t surprised Warsma and hundreds of other residents. They no longer have illusions about the behavior and opinions of young neighbors. Their anger mainly affects the devotees.
“I’m angry about it,” says businessman Theodor van Boven, 67. condoms, two blocks away “that the municipality is not responding to complaints. He has been of the opinion for years that we should solve it here together”. At the end of July, Wersma, with the knowledge of Van Boven, Secretary of the Neighborhood Association, decided to call Norwegian Refugee Council.
They say their story goes beyond the story of a common dispute between neighbors. Their story is mainly about urban government that believes in self-regulation, which is “nice and easy,” says Van Boven. And about the “elite club that thinks untouchable” and buys residents who complain about spending a night in a hotel a little farther away.
And that while things have gone well among students and long-term residents, there’s Warmoesstraat. For almost fifteen years, since the beginning of this century, there has been a bi-annual meeting between the corps, the population, the police and the municipality. Then Wirsma, Van Boven and three ASC managers went to Stopera “sometimes not more than half an hour,” says Van Boven, to discuss things that were or were to be played. The then-community police officer had taken the initiative after the ambulances came and went, because someone else had lost consciousness after drinking too much. Under pressure from the police and the municipality, the corps and the neighborhood concluded a pact in which they promised to discuss and resolve troublesome issues among themselves.
Society had to shut down
And the Civil Service Commission agreed, in part, to make a fresh start. It was moved in April 1994 from Raamgracht to the old abandoned building of the Debussy printing company on Warmoesstraat. “One of the main reasons for this move is the poor condition of the permits and the poor relationship with neighbors on Raamgracht,” the association wrote on its website.
At first, things didn’t go any better on Warmoesstraat, a mainly shopping and entertainment street with apartments here and there. As early as 1995, locals complained about the noise and bad smell the club and its visitors made. Together with the lawyer von der Beesen, beloved in the circles of squatters, they successfully litigated before the State Council. ASC had to shut down for six months to build better ventilation facilities. Theodoor van Boven proudly takes the file in his archive at the back of the Condomerie to show procedural documents from that time.
Then the balance of forces between the wire and the neighbors slowly but surely shifted. The municipal official who was part of the Stopera meeting retired. His successor did not respond to emails from van Boven and the others. The Stopera meeting is no more. This was not necessary due to the lockdowns against Corona in 2020 and 2021. The ASC is closed. They paint: “How fun!”
With the reopening of the life of the corps, all the old demons have returned. Some of the residents actually moved. “I really want to be able to sell my artwork to neighbors when these guys and girls soon have CEO positions,” says Hans Mantje, for example, who has a studio behind the ASC building. On the other hand, Tom Sandvoort (63), who bought a building near the club hall he had previously occupied, remains hawkish: “It looks like an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan here with all these white boys and girls,” he says. “You have to deal with it hard. It is a shame that the municipality is not helping us and if necessary withdraw the liquor license.”
full of resistance
Nour and Wesma also decided to resist completely. No more consultations, no more pacts, no more agreements to solve the problems between them. I’m sick of the polite words of yet another new board that still promises a fresh start. And when, last spring, “these sausages” offered her a night in the Krasnapolsky hotel, almost around the corner, because another big party was coming, Wiersma indignantly refused this offer. “What do they think?”
A neighbor accepted an offer to stay in Krasnapolsky (Booking.com does not offer rooms there Less than €400 a night) to spend the night during the Legion’s annual four-day Winter Festival. Since then, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, spends four days a year on the ASC in hotels, and sometimes abroad as well. “The inconvenience of this party is so great that this appointment is absolutely necessary,” she says.
In theory, Wiersma has only one final choice: move out of her social rented home in the heart of the city. „Of course I have sometimes on Woningnet [het aanbod van sociale huurwoningen in Amsterdam] I looked at it,” she says. Just to quickly conclude that it will only deteriorate in terms of rent for space and atmosphere. You pay reasonable rent to housing company Lieven De Key for the spacious apartment, not the main prize.
She has decided to stay and hopes that other parties such as the municipality will continue to take responsibility.
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After questions from Norwegian Refugee Council Both the authority and the municipality act on residents’ complaints. On behalf of the newly appointed ASC Board of Directors, University President Sebastian Claver emailed: “We (…) attach great importance to the relationship with the neighborhood for the coming year.” Meanwhile, the ASC has contacted residents who have lodged a complaint. A drink is scheduled to take place in the neighborhood in October, when all residents are invited. At upcoming concerts, the committee will conduct “decibel-scale measurements” to detect excesses in time.
The ASC also wants to breathe new life into the consultations with the municipality. The municipality also thinks the latter option is a good idea, says safety coordinator Wouter Berenson. He believes that the consultations have not yet begun, “with the same poor condition of the population.”
Nour and Esma no longer have to think about this meeting. As far as you’re concerned, the time for friendly decisions, decibel gauges and neighborhood liquors is long gone. In her view, strict enforcement by the police and the municipality is the only thing that can keep the noisy corps in line.
Years of complaints from local residents, such as complaints about the Amsterdam Student Corps, are less common in other university towns, according to an NRC tour. However, the role of notorious female students can cause inconvenience. Internationalization of students also causes problems here and there.
“Overall, things are going well,” says Rob Steckleman of the Oude en Nieuwe Delf residents’ association in Delft, areas where there are a number of student associations: “Overall, things are going well. The Delft Student Corps is somewhat isolated on a broad road. This is different in Virgiel and other large associations. , especially in introductory weeks like last month. Many residents who live downtown in Oude Delft know this now and have been out of town for a few weeks.”
Delft Mayor Maria van Bisterveldt lives by herself in a neighborhood with many student homes. “Sometimes I knock on the door,” the former minister wrote in response. “Sometimes a signal with very high bass or the voice through the app works great. Usually such a signal is picked up instantly and always occurs in good harmony.”
In Rotterdam, many students are active in the neighborhood and the city, reports the participating neighborhood associations. As a result, it became easier to accept the inconvenience of student communities in city centers. (By the way, the Amsterdam student body helps refugees in schools and visits lonely elderly people.)
“Many students are active in the neighbourhood: Join Opzoomeren,” says Paul Driessen, board member of the Kralingen-Oost Association of Rotterdam Residents. [schoonhouden etc.], with barbecues or children’s celebrations. Never in the news, but important.” However, there were many complaints in Kralingen about the drinking, belching and vomiting of students. This led to regular consultations with students, residents, the municipality and the police.
Driessen cares more about “students who don’t belong to anything, which makes it difficult to make agreements.” Among them are many international students. “The Chinese don’t bother you; they study hard. But the Germans, the British, and the Spaniards give parties regularly.”
Rotterdam City Council could be more active, says Driessen: “Enough promises and nice emails after complaints of inconvenience, then not much will happen. Despite promises, the ‘hobbling’ of buildings here in the district continues, sometimes Eight rooms at the same time.
“It’s going really well here,” says Art Martin de Jong of the neighborhood association Pal Leiden in central Leiden, where there are four student associations, including the Minerva Student Corps. As in Rotterdam, students are also active here in the neighborhood and the city. Members participate in Leids Cabaret Festival and Museum Night, and occasionally sit on the neighborhood association’s board of directors, says De Jong.
Associations such as Augustinus publish a newsletter to local residents with upcoming activities, so that they are warned of any potential inconvenience. “I recently heard that students were helping maintain people’s gardens in the neighborhood,” says De Jong.
Neighborhood associations cannot express all the sentiments of the local residents involved. The inconvenience is also subjectively experienced, for example in Groningen. The area in which the Vindicat community is located, which has been in the news several times in the past, does not have its own neighborhood association. “It has nothing to do with Vindicat, we’re not too bothered by that,” says Henk Boldewijn, of the neighborhood association Binnenstad-Oost.
Neighbor Pauline Sarkar made a different noise. I wrote Norwegian Refugee Council In response to the fluctuations surrounding the Amsterdam Legion: “Now I live in Groningen in a neighborhood with many students, and I notice that at 81 I feel very angry and stressed that I want to do something for every Vindicater I meet. Walking through my neighborhood I feel exactly the same way with the insecurity and impulsiveness I felt sixty years ago.”
A version of this article also appeared in the October 18, 2022 newspaper