Discrimination still rife for those looking for student digs in Leuven

The Leuven University (KUL) student newspaper Veto has investigated discrimination on the market for student accommodation in the Flemish Brabant city. The results of the investigation that are published in the latest edition of Veto make sad and disturbing reading. 

Student journalists working for Veto contacted landlords of student digs in the town sometimes using the typically Arab name Ahmed and other times using the typically Dutch or Flemish name Willem-Jan. 

Flip Franssen

When “Willem-Jan” enquired about digs landlords were far more likely to say that they had something available than when “Ahmed” asked them the same question.    

Although the number of landlords contacted was fairly limited the results of the students' piece of investigative journalism showed a clear discrepancy in the reactions to an enquiry about accommodation from someone landlords believed to be of white Flemish or Dutch heritage and someone they believe to be of North African heritage. While “Willem-Jan” was received 11 invitations to go and view a room or studio flat from landlords, “Ahmed” received just 4 invitations. The same group of landlords was contacted via email in both cases.    

Furthermore, those that worked on the article also found that landlords would rather not let to Chinese students.

Veto’s Daan Delespaul told VRT Radio 2 Flemish Brabant that "Coronavirus hasn’t done China’s reputation any good. However, the evidence we have from Chinese students dates from just before the start of the pandemic”.

"I think that there is a kind of general stigma attached to this group and I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because they don’t speak very good English? Or maybe it’s because it is believed that they don’t integrate well?”.

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