Student - December 14, 2006

It’s dirty living in some international corridors

Smelly garbage bags in the doorway and refrigerators crammed full of food that’s going off: the cleanliness of some of the international corridors in the Bornsesteeg is a cause for concern among the residents. Housing office Idealis says it is doing what it can.

Despite professional cleaning services being provided, some international corridors also do their own cleaning.
PhD student Argyris Kanellopoulos has been living in an international corridor at the Bornsesteeg for three years. ‘My corridor is not clean,’ he says. ‘And it is not the only one – many international corridors here share the same problem.”

‘We don’t clean the shared facilities like toilets and showers,’ MSc student Jie Yan elaborates. ‘Idealis organises the cleaning, and it is done by an outside company. But the cleaners don’t clean very well – you can’t see the difference between before and after the toilets are cleaned.’

According to a recently graduated PhD student, who prefers to remain anonymous, this is not the only reason for the dirty state of some corridors: ‘The residents living in the corridors are also responsible. When students put smelly garbage bags in the corridor just after a collection has taken place, the corridor stays smelly until the next collection. It’s pretty unpleasant.’

The same person knows from experience that the Dutch corridors do not have the same problems. ‘I have lived in a Dutch corridor and a mixed corridor,’ he says. ‘The shared spaces in the Dutch corridors are cleaned by the people living there and the head of the corridor is responsible for making the cleaning schedule and seeing that the work gets done.’

Measures taken by the international residents to clean their corridors have failed, counters Kanellopoulos. ‘We tried to organise the cleaning ourselves in addition to the professional cleaners. But one of the problems was that the residents in my corridor changed so frequently that it was difficult to implement and monitor the cleaning schedule. We gave up.’

Kanellopoulos’ experiences are shared by many of the residents of the international corridors, but not by Deny Iyai. ‘I’ve only been in this corridor for two months, but I think my corridor is clean,’ he says. ‘We don’t have a fixed cleaning schedule but we clean the common facilities from time to time.’

Head of the housing services at Idealis, Jan Harkema, is aware of complaints from international corridors. ‘We have received complaints about cleanliness and have taken action to solve the problem. In fact, as a result of these complaints, we contracted a different cleaning company and the standard has improved. The caretaker of Bornsesteeg and the personnel from the head office are responsible for monitoring the quality of the cleaning company. We could spend more time on monitoring, but that would probably mean an increase in room rent, which the Bornsesteeg students are unlikely to be in favour of.’

According to Harkema, the international students should also realise their cooperation is important if Idealis is to improve its services. ‘The more complaints we receive, the more information we have on where and how to improve our services. We also receive complaints from the cleaning company that despite being cleaned twice a week, some corridors remain filthy.’

‘We are aware of the situation and would like to improve our service to the tenants,’ says Tiffany Fuhler, the public relations and communications officer at Idealis. ‘We carried out a survey on cleaning issues last year to improve the quality of our services. Next year, Idealis, together with SFO (the tenants’ association), will organise an international student panel on housing matters. We hope that this will be a way for international tenants to have their opinions heard.’

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