The excesses of student housing: from ‘meat inspection’ to ‘hospi-tinder’

Anyone who wants a room in a student house is almost always subjected to what in Dutch is called ‘hospiteren’. This means you are invited by the house to get acquainted. Often together with a number of other candidates. The housemates who already live there try to see if you are compatible with them by asking questions. Choosing is often difficult, as a result some houses invent the strangest things for their ‘hospiteer’ evenings. During these evenings, they sometimes completely ignore the feelings of the room seekers.

The most extreme case is given to us by Yuri (24), university student in Delft and resident of a men's student house. “Once a year we organize what we call a ‘Hospi-tinder’ evening. We upload one of our rooms online, choose a few beautiful ladies and say that they have to bring a bottle of Limoncello or something else. Then we drink with the ladies for an evening and call them all afterwards with the message that they did not get the room.”

That you might have some moral comments on this tradition, Yuri does not want to know. “You have to see it as a joke, that's all. Moreover, the ladies never find out that it was a big joke and they have a nice evening. There are worse things.”

Who would you want to have sex with? Totally irrelevant
Indeed extreme, but stories about these ‘hospiteer’ evenings not always being decent are often heard. University student Paul (22), for example, came across a nasty surprise when he went to the IBB for a ‘hospiteer’ evening. “When I came in everyone was drunk already. I was on my own. Then they went on to ask which woman in the room I would like to have sex with. That was totally irrelevant to the ‘hospiteer’ evening. They were just drunken people who did not realize how far they could go.”

He joked about it. “I did not go into it any further. I wanted that room at first - but when I got these kinds of questions, I did not want it anymore. To be polite, I did not walk away from them.”

Paul says he was not tempted to respond to the impertinent question, but he understands that things like this happen. “The concept of a ‘hospiteer’ evening is that you have people who want to belong somewhere and are prepared to go to great lengths for this. That gives power to people which they sometimes abuse. I regularly hear horror stories from friends.”

Really not cool to abuse the housing shortage
Someone who has such a horror story is former student Rosa (27). She turned out to be the victim of a dubious ‘hospiteer’ evening in Utrecht, which in terms of character resembles those of Yuri. “I was invited by a men's student house. They had mostly invited women and asked us all to bring drinks. Then they got very drunk and it was no longer about a room, they just wanted to drink with a lot of women in their house.”

Rosa immediately felt that something was not right. “You were not asked who you were, what you did; all of those normal ‘hospiteer’ questions were skipped. There was a very unsafe atmosphere.” She did not have to think twice about how to counter this situation: “I was gone ten minutes later. The run on housing was gigantic at the time, so everyone wanted a home very badly. It was really not cool to abuse the housing shortage in such a way.”

Have you gone completely crazy
Agnes (23) can talk about houses that are not considerate of the feelings of their ‘hospiteer’ candidates as well. The ‘hospiteer’ evening of a few months ago in Lombok surpassed everything. “I had to wait in the hall with six other boys and girls after I arrived. We were not told why. I did not understand. At one point we were called into the living room and we had to stand in a row. The residents just sat on couches in silence giggling at us.”

Now that she is thinking back, she gets angry again. “We had no idea what to do. After a while, the girl who had picked us up from the hall said that we had to go back there again. When we stood there for five minutes, the girl came to tell three of us that we did not get the room and that we had to leave.”

Agnes was one of those three. The other three were allowed to continue. She went home completely baffled. In retrospect, she blames herself for not being angry. “I actually wanted to walk into that room to ask if they have gone completely crazy. But at such a moment, you do not do that.”

The question of what you can do about such abuses remains unanswered. According to Agnes, it is essential to be yourself and to guard your boundaries. “You must not let yourself be fooled and keep thinking carefully. ‘Am I okay with this?’ And it is also important to always remember: it is only a room. And if those people are insane, you do not want to live there anyway.”

They do not complain to us
That no room seeker wants to be in the article with their real name*, is perhaps understandable. Anyone who is known to expose these things could be afraid of losing their chances in the overly saturated housing market. Complaints are not made to the official bodies. The police, student organization Vidius or tenants’ organizations such as the Huurteam and Boks indicate that they do not receive reports of the practices as described in this article.

Student housing provider SSH also states that it does not get any reports of strange incidents during hospitality evenings: “We have a lot of contact with tenants, and we never hear that candidates have had to do strange things on a ‘hospiteer’ evening”, says Anne Schulze of the SSH. “This of course does not mean that it never happens, but at least they do not complain to us about it.” She has never heard of fake ‘hospiteer’ evenings. “That sounds very strange to us.”

* The real names of the students in this article are known to the editors