Resistance against the new students flats

Published on
February 6, 2018

Students in Wageningen were not enthusiastic about building student flats in the 1960s. Student association Ceres thought that the flats would disrupt the student society. According to Sylvie Deenen, the current director of student accommodation provider Idealis, that feeling has disappeared.

Sylvie Deenen became director of Idealis in 2013. She had never lived in a building owned by student housing because she studied in Nijmegen. Consequently, what she knows of the history of Idealis comes from stories of (ex-) colleagues and from a booklet marking the 25th anniversary of the predecessor of Idealis, Studentenhuisvesting Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen (SSH). ‘That was 36 years ago, before I was a student,’ says Deenen.

After a while the kitchens were crawling with cockroaches.
Mr. Bakker

Mr Bakker, the former director of SSH, has first-hand knowledge about student housing. The 88-year-old director began working at SSH in 1960. ‘Life in the flats was different from what it is nowadays,’ he said. Only male students lived in Asserpark and Hoevestein; mixed facilities were inconceivable. There weren’t so many female students, and they lived together in a compartment in Walstraat. The common rooms in the students’ buildings were cleaned regularly by cleaning personnel, but the inhabitants weren’t always satisfied. ‘At a certain point, the boys wanted to do their own cleaning and save on service charges,’ Bakker said. ‘The same was true where the girls lived. But they preferred not to clean at all, I think, because after a while the kitchens were crawling with cockroaches. The caretakers had their hands full.’

SSH in 1960

In 1960 SSH was part of WUR, had existed for only three years and had just a few employees. At that time it managed 90 rooms on Nobelweg. ‘Before then, students usually lived with a landlady,’ Bakker explained. Although some students saw no need to build a student flat, SSH could get a large subsidy for their construction. ‘The accommodations on were already in place when I arrived. In 1965 we built Walstraat and, a few years later, the flats Hoevestein and Asserpark.’

When Bakker retired in 1986, he left behind an organisation of about 40 employees that managed almost 5000 student rooms. In those years, responsibility for student housing was transferred from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Housing. As SSH became more independent, it could expand its work and was later renamed “Idealis”.


Deenen sent an anecdote from SSH’s anniversary book to University Fund Wageningen. To commemorate WUR’s 100th anniversary, everyone can share memories of WUR on the project site. You can also donate money via the site for diverse projects that will be organised in connection with the centennial. The memories will be displayed on Alumni Day (23 June 2018).

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