News - March 10, 2011

Not many drunks at the counter

How did the student population do in the past 25 years? An interview about then and now with four veteran staff members of the student front desk: Marion, Henk, Evert and Sjaak.

There aren't as many oddballs nowadays as there were in the past, says the foursome. Take the student who reported 37 times at the front desk to graduate. Someone recalls the student who came to register at the university with a lawyer sent by his parents. Students in the past were also more ready to protest, such as taking over the student front desk. 'We once stood with a fire hose in the corridor to keep them away', said Sjaak. 'Students were more fanatic. They are now more composed. They are also more businesslike and serious.' This is partly because there are more foreign students now than in the past. 'Those have to do well', says Marion. 'A six is not good enough in other cultures. You are not supposed to fail and such a low score means losing face.'

Let your hair down at the club
Students in the old days had more time and space. They did more studies than the administration computer could handle. Partygoers with hangovers would briefly drop by at five minutes to three in the afternoon to collect their study notes, says Evert. There are still students like that now, but fewer. The atmosphere is also good nowadays, but the rules have become stricter. There is more stress from the pressure to do well. In the past, students were still tied to the parental home for a while. Those would start off with good grades, but one and a half years later, they would let their hair down at the student club. There were more students from the rural areas, more farm students wearing wooden clogs, something the foursome can still remember. During graduation ceremonies, families showed up in their Sunday best, and grandmas came along too. This happens less nowadays.
The life of a student has also changed. In the past, everyone lived out, while nowadays, more Dutch students go home in the weekends. There are not many lectures on Fridays and it is quiet in the Forum. Marion: 'The foreign students often stay back to study in the Forum in the evenings and on Sundays. They don't usually join any society. If they go out, they usually go to the normal cafes on the market square. The boys are together much more now than in the past.'

White sports shoes
In the past, there were students who came half-drunk to the front desk during the introduction week. That seldom happens nowadays. Today's students dress very much alike, with hardly any exceptions. In the past, you recognized students by their clothes, says Sjaak. 'We would say: that one is from the Droevendaalsesteeg, and that from the Heerenstraat. There were more distinct groups, because the university's chair groups were spread out more all over Wageningen. Nowadays, there is the Forum. A beautiful building, but being bigger, it houses more anonymity.' As for the foreign students, there is a subtle difference in dressing. In the past, they came to Wageningen and bought white sports shoes from the shops here. Nowadays, they arrive in white sports shoes.