News - September 22, 2016

Column: Absolute low point

Stijn van Gils

Sometimes you know for sure that it can’t get any worse. The sign with ‘wage ningen’, ‘campus’ and ‘welcome’ was one such absolute low point for me. But I was wrong.

The wage ningen campus people (whoever they might be) have thought up something new now — an even uglier campus sign. If you haven’t yet seen it, this sign consists of three sections. The top is white and displays the familiar words wage, ningen and campus. The bottom is bilious green and refers to a website whose relevance I fail to see.

Sandwiched between these two anonymous parts is the heart of the sign. This central section displays a photo of three people who have been asked to look as uninspiring and uninterested as possible. They succeeded. Even so, I think the design team must have been afraid that the woman on the right of the photo was secretly harbouring a tiny bit of inspiration. To crush that impression, they have placed the meaningless words ‘Discover your campus’ right next to her. In contrast to the top and bottom, this middle section is concrete. While the top and bottom prompt the question ‘What on earth is this?’, the central section gives the answer: ‘Probably an old people’s home’.

I can only guess at the purpose of the sign. Is this a new measure aimed at scaring prospective students away from our overfull campus? Is it just a bad joke?

I have no idea, but the longer I spend looking at it, the sadder I feel. I now know for sure, this is the absolute low point. But then, that’s what I thought last time.

Stijn van Gils (29) is doing doctoral research on ecosystem services in agriculture. Every month he describes his struggles with the scientific system.