News - May 27, 2010

Why we don't all join in We Day

Even on We Day some people are hard at work. Because of injuries or work pressure, or because the secretary is away. 'She is the one who spurs us on to join in.'

Radix during WE Day
It is quiet in the corridors of Isric. PhD researcher Rogier de Jong is at his computer, forced to stay away from the sports day by a knee injury. 'Otherwise I would have gone mountain biking', he says. But he is using the time to work on a presentation for a conference. 'Last year I did join in, and it was good fun. I'll go along in a bit and stand on the sidelines. We've got a team joining in the hexathlon.'
It is much quieter than usual in Radix, says the receptionist. Why isn't she at We Day? 'I didn't like it at all last year. And I didn't get any refreshments vouchers, even though I had signed up in advance.' Up on the third floor there are plenty of flexible workstations still occupied by PhD researchers and postdocs. They are just carrying on with their research as if nothing was happening, says a member of staff who is about to set off for We Day. She is going to cheer on her department's team in the hexathlon. Quite a few of the permanent staff's rooms are occupied too. 'Too busy. May is already broken up by so many holidays. The work has to be done. I've got a deadline.'

Most of the non-joiners cite work as their reason. Or slackness: 'There were so many emails, so you deal with the important ones first, and say you'll sing up for We Day later...' Or just not feeling like it. One staff member sitting on the sunny roof terrace at Radix says, 'I hate that sort of group festival. It's wasted on me.'
'I haven't noticed it at all, actually', says Wim Nieuwenhuizen of Alterra's Landscape Centre. 'My father has just died. I was so busy it escaped my notice. I'm not very sporty anyway. I have been along in the past, if someone asked me to. But I do still think it's a good idea, something like We Day.'
At Public Administration and Policy at the Leeuwenborch, it is business as usual. The small business studies group is almost complete. Room 42 is full in fact: three PhD researchers. Against their will, as it turns out. Robbert Biesbroek is fed up: he had signed up but has forgotten his sports kit. Pieter Zwaan and Maartje van Lieshout are just too busy. 'There are too many holidays one after the other and there is just too much work waiting to be done.' Van Lieshout wonders why We Day is held precisely in this period. But there is another reason why they are sitting indoors instead of being outside joining in the sports. The secretary is on holiday. 'She is always the one who spurs us on to join in together.'

More participants than ever
We Day attracted about 2565 participants, says Henri ten Klooster, head of the Bongerd Sports Centre. Last year there were 2300. The most popular activity is always the hexathlon, with forty to fifty teams taking part. A new item on the programme this year was Zumba, which attracted many participants. Other new activities were baseball, power dumbbell training and pole fitness.