Column: Malone

Questions remain for Duwo

“In Delta 19, we saw an article by Raghuveer Ramesh exploring issues with international housing and Duwo. The article was a great start to bringing better understanding and cooperation between international students, TU Deflt and Duwo, but there are many unresolved issues raised in Ramesh’s piece. Gilbert Mul referenced one of my articles, and I’d like to thank him for reading. Delta is one of the more prominent platforms for international students to express their opinions, and I find it encouraging that someone at Duwo is paying attention.

But as to Mul’s regret about my article, and his statement that I was incorrect in my assertion that Duwo charges 20 euros a month for kitchen utensils, I don’t think Mul addressed my basic concern, and he raised a new one: first, he doesn’t explain why students are charged this way. Is this to recoup the cost of the dishes? Is each student required to buy an entire new kitchen set, even though most or all of the original set is probably fine? Is the original set thrown out? Even at €5, this system makes no sense. The new problem I have after Ramesh’s article is that I asked three different students living in the space boxes what the charge for kitchen utensils was, and they all told me 20 euros. MSc students at TU Delft are pretty sharp, so my new question is: why don’t they understand their Duwo bills? The system is obviously not very transparent.

This is interesting, because Mul makes a major point of stressing how transparent Duwo is, but how transparent could it be if there is so much dissatisfaction with the agency, and if an article like Ramesh’s is necessary in the first place? I don’t just think TU students are sharp, I also think they’re reasonable, and if a charge is reasonable and is explained as reasonable, I think we will accept that. But kitchen utensils aren’t my only problem with what Duwo is saying in Ramesh’s article. Mul seems to claim that the 150 euros monthly energy charge is just to cover costs – but how come I pay half that amount in my Dutch Duwo student house? Also, how disorganized is Duwo that they can’t manage a system to charge students the actual amount that they use? In my Woonpunt building they managed it: when I left, they read my meter, made a calculation, and charged me accordingly. It’s not rocket science. Another thing: why do students pay 50 euros to extend their contract? If anything, shouldn’t there be fewer costs involved by having a student stay rather than signing up a new one? Shouldn’t students get a rent discount for staying? As to the 150 euros contract-start fee, I would again reference my Dutch Duwo room: no 150 euros fee, I can leave any time with 30 days notice, and I can sublet my room. Why this disparity between Dutch Duwo and international Duwo residences?

I welcome the dialogue that has begun between students, Duwo, and the TU, but we’re just at the beginning of this process. Duwo claims transparency, but obviously it’s not there yet. We have a long ways to go.”

Devin Malone, a second-year MSc student of industrial ecology, is from Anchorage, Alaska.