Poppin’ the Bubble

When potential students apply to AUC, they must agree to living in the campus dorms. According to the AUC website, this guarantees “that their time at AUC becomes a true intercultural and social learning experience”. By having to live in the dorms, in proximity with fellow students, an AUC student “will be able to cooperate and discuss issues with fellow students and lecturers both during and after class hours, and engage in various social and cultural activities with fellow students”. However, living in the dorms is not just a community-building project for AUC, according to the AUC Code of Conduct and AUC Rules and Regulations, it is a requirement: “2. the educational philosophy of AUC includes the principle that AUC students are accommodated as a group, in each other’s immediate vicinity, on an open campus”; “1.3 AUC is a residential college, and all students live on campus for the duration of their studies.” Although numerous complaints [1] [2] [3] have been made by the AUC student body regarding their living condition, far from the one promised by AUC and DUWO, a more controversial practice, one that directly breeches AUC’s rules, is seldom exposed.

“Why do I have to pay for rent twice?” asks Halima Chaudhry, age 24, who graduated in 2015. Although she tried negotiating with AUC administration, Chaudry found herself having to pay rent for her room on Carolina Macgillavrylaan for three consecutive years even though she lived in her family house further away in Amsterdam. At home, Chaudry found herself more focused on her studies, away from the distractions of dorm-life, which she was dissatisfied with. “I never gave my room to anyone”, Chaudry explains, “Even though many of my friends told me to do it, but I just wanted to have a clean record and not have problems with DUWO and my studies in AUC. I knew a few people giving their rooms to other people, but I never had the courage to do that. Plus I think it’s illegal”.

Some students also manage to live outside of the dorms under AUC’s supervision, as is the case for Michelle Crijns, 22, seventh semester social sciences student at AUC. Crijns is an intern in Brussels, Belgium from January until the end of May 2017, but is also taking the course Global Culture on Wednesdays this semester. On Tuesday evenings, Crijns commutes from her place in Brussels back to AUC. “It was a super easy process for me”, Crijns says about leaving the dorms and finishing her contract with DUWO, “I think it’s also because I’m doing the internship for AUC, whereas if you want to move out just because you prefer it, maybe that’s not good enough for AUC”.

Daniella Solis, 27, who attended AUC for one year starting September 2015, is one of the examples of people who would have preferred to live outside of the dorms. Before applying, Solis contacted AUC about her situation – she has two daughters, who both go to school in Noord, and Solis already had a house in Noord. The AUC administration refused to be flexible with Solis’s situation. “They said if I did not agree to rent a dorm [room] I should maybe try to apply to another university” Solis said. Solis decided that she would attend AUC but continue living in Noord, and only lived in the dorms for the five months before leaving AUC. “[I] did not want to deal with the whole moving again especially putting the girls through it” Solis explains “It was for sure one of the reasons I was under a lot of stress since the very beginning [at AUC]”.

According to Belinda Stratton, AUC’s managing director, “There is no system to apply for approval for living outside of the dorms, and no conditions to obtain such an exemption”. Although some students are exempted from living in the dorms, due to circumstances that the AUC administration individually considers, AUC’s approach does not aim for a comprehensive system of application that would offer students the options to live outside of the dorms. Instead, “We make every effort to explore and discuss the measures or changes needed to make living in the dorms easier/better/more enjoyable/more acceptable for that student, and how these can be realized” Stratton writes in an email.

However, the desire to live outside of the dorms appears to be more systemically recurring, as was the case for Jacob Adriani, 22, who graduated last July. “The problem comes back each year for virtually every student” Adriani said about the period when a part of the graduating students make the transition from living in the dorms to living elsewhere in Amsterdam. “We were allowed to leave the dorms early July at the earliest, and something like July 20th at the latest” Adriani explains, “That means a three week window in which to move to a new place, otherwise you either pay double rent or you’re homeless for a while”. Adriani wanted to stay in Amsteram after AUC, and found a room whose contract started on April 1st. From that date till the end of July, he chose to sublet his room in the dorms without AUC or DUWO’s approval. Adriani attempted to ‘legalize’ his situation, but the AUC administration refused. “They were never going to kick me out in the final three months” Adriani said about his decision.

 

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