Thomas van Aquinostraat 1 mostly open again on Monday after occupation; seventeen rooms still closed

07 Jun 2024

For the past two days, cleaning staff have had a tough job restoring Thomas van Aquinostraat 1. Most of the building will be accessible again on Monday. However, seventeen rooms will remain closed for a longer period.

Vans from various cleaning and painting companies, a large truck from a sewer engineering service, and dozens of people busy with high-pressure cleaners, detergents, and brushes. The Thomas van Aquino Building 1 (TvA) is buzzing with activity on Friday afternoon.

Students and staff who normally use the building had to find shelter elsewhere on campus today and yesterday. The building was closed after last Wednesday’s occupation.

Graffiti and ink

Around 16:00 that day, activists took over premises and barricaded the doors with things like benches, chairs, and wastebaskets. They also sprayed walls and belongings with graffiti and ink, opened fire hoses, emptied fire extinguishers, and threw paper out of windows. By 21:00, the protestors came out on their own.

Some of the red paint spots have proven tenacious. Photo: David van Haren

According to a spokesperson, the university does not yet know what the total cleaning cost will be.

Smell of turpentine

‘Part of the building was a real mess,’ says Joep van Bracht, leader of the technical services department at Radboud University. He gives a tour of the building to show what has happened since occupation. ‘We have worked very hard.’

This can be seen upon entering: the corridors and walls of the ground floor are clean. While still wet in places, the walls are free of graffiti. Only the pungent smell of turpentine serves as a memory of what took place here on Wednesday night.

But elsewhere in the building, the havoc can still be clearly seen. On the first floor, part of it is still red with paint. Cleaning equipment is ready, but no one is working there. ‘We have decided to keep this part of the building closed for the time being,’ Van Bracht says. ‘We will look further after the weekend. First focus on the rest.’

Creative solutions

In other places, painters are working to repaint doors and window frames. The cleaning product used to remove the graffiti has also affected the paint layer.

The wall still shows a wet spot, but the text is no longer legible. Photo: David van Haren

Creative solutions are also being sought to mask the red paint. For example, paintings will be hung over it, according to Van Bracht. There are dozens or artworks available, and a handyman is on the way with a drill and plugs.

Doors open again

Starting next week, students and staff will be welcome back in the TvA. The university wrote on its website that the building will ‘largely reopen’ on Monday. An email from the Campus & Facilities department, sent to users of the building, reveals that seventeen rooms on the first floor will remain closed for a longer period of time, as “more repairs are needed.”

“Work will continue in the coming days so that everyone can get back to work as soon as possible,” the e-mail reads. It may take some time before things are fully restored. The repairs will also continue over the summer period. “Inconvenience will not always be avoidable, but will be limited as much as possible.”

Translated by Lieke Stevens


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