In November, students living in the Bijlmerflat Daalwijk complained they felt unsafe after a bullet flew through the window. Now there are also complaints from students living in containers nearby on the Dennenrodepad.
‘Today someone got stabbed at 2 p.m. on the route I take every day to class,’ Bilge Sen (21, Linguistics) posted on Twitter last week. ‘How the fuck did my university provide housing in an area like this?’
Bilge lives on the Spinozacampus on the Dennenrodepad with 1,715 other students in Amsterdam Zuidoost. Like the other 20 international students that live there, the UvA arranged her housing even before she had arrived in the Netherlands. Her tweet refers to a recent stabbing in the neighbourhood in which a 35-year-old woman died. ‘Things like this happen every week. If I can’t find somewhere else to live, I will quit my studies.’
There are plenty more complaints regarding safety concerns and how housing agent Duwo and the UvA are dealing with them on the campus’ Facebook page and WhatsApp group. Students have since started a petition demanding surveillance cameras and extra security. Last week Duwo promised extra security for the next two to three months during the evenings, but said the municipality would not permit cameras. A spokesperson says the company feels responsible and will do its best, but that ‘it does not have freedom of action in the public space.’ The spokesperson also said that ‘feeling safe’ and ‘being safe’ should not be confused. ‘The area has shown declining crime figures for years. We think that sometimes the expectations of foreign students do not correspond to reality.’
A UvA spokesperson says that the UvA is aware of the incidents and that it is taking the complaints seriously. For the academic year 2019/2020, the UvA has not yet made any decisions as to the placement of any international students at the Spinozacampus, and is talking about the case with Duwo, the municipality, the police and student union ASVA. The UvA wants students to know they should feel comfortable addressing the university with their worries, and that support is available via student councillors and psychologists.