News - March 24, 2016

Column: wage ningen

Stijn van Gils

Of course there are worse things—climate change, IS, discrimination—but sometimes it’s nice to get wound up about a minor matter. I used to be able do that with the bike bridge near the Forum, which you can hardly cycle across due to all the anti-slip ridges. That was great. And it created a bond. After all, it’s easy to find allies who also get worked up about the ridges. This used to make my life that little bit more bearable. At least, until I moved and the bike bridge was no longer on my route.

Now I’ve finally found something new: the huge sign welcoming us to Wageningen Campus. The bottom is bilious green while the white letters saying ‘welcome’ rather than ‘welkom’ imply you can only come in if you speak English. The top is white and displays the words wage, ningen and campus in a not quite serious font. Brilliant! The designer has managed to combine childishness (that w), sterility (that white) and anonymity (could this be the entrance to a care home or a car dealership?) with a spelling error (it should of course be Wageningen), doing so with consummate skill.

On Facebook, friends and colleagues all over the world have been expressing their irritation too. ‘Wasn’t there already enough confusion with Wageningen UR brands like WU, WUR, DLO, PRI, LEI and do they need yet another brand name for the campus?’ says one. ‘This is awful,’ says another. Even Wageningen UR spokesman Simon Vink understands the confusion. ‘But it’ll get sorted out, I hope,’ he says on Twitter.

I think he’s right. The first international students have already been spotted posing next to the sign.

Stijn van Gils (28) is doing doctoral research on ecosystem services in agriculture. Every month he describes his struggles with the scientific system.