News - March 3, 2010

Home away from home

Three Wageningen student societies turn their backs to the international character of Wageningen UR, while they highlight only their own regional traits.

The Brabant Students' Guild in carnival outfit.
They feel different from others. 'We have a common language and culture. This makes us more individualistic', says Johannes Bouma. He is the chairman of the Wageningsk Studinte Selskip foar Fryske Stúdzje (WSSFS), or the Friesian student society of Wageningen University. Besides the WSSFS, there are two other regional student societies in Wageningen: 't Noaberschop especially for students from Twente and the Achterhoek, and the Brabant Students' Guild (BSG). Many of their activities are related to their own regions. For example, the Friesians like to skate and the members of  't Noaberschop are game on 'klootschieten', a local bowling sport. For the Brabant students, and also for the Achterhoekers, carnival is a high point every year. 'We always join a procession in a Brabant village; it was Oosteind this year', says BSG chairman Suzanne Aarts. Her society also organizes various evening activities. 'Our organization is typically Brabant as we have forty committees with sixty members. In this way, one group is responsible for beer, while another organizes the annual Brabant cabaret.'
The three student societies hold their activities in cafes such as the Woeste Hoeve and Annies. They don't see the need to be housed in one place as that would be too much of a hassle. But the societies can't get pass the financial support regulation for students. As they are not internationally-oriented, their board members do not get any extra time to complete their studies when there are delays caused by club duties. Johannes: 'We organize many nice activities for our members. In big student societies, even the committee members get time-off, whereas our board members don't quality at all.'
'In addition, we also have many members who would otherwise not become members of a student society at all', says Suzanne. 'International students are also welcome. We had two German girls before, but they didn't get what they were looking for.' Guus Diepenmaat of 't Noaberschap is able to share such sentiments. 'Many foreign students find the Dutch language difficult as it is, not to mention having to understand a dialect.'
None of the regional students feel that he or she is missing out on the world by sticking to their own territories. 'We meet many other students during projects and in the student apartments', says Suzanne. Johannes has tried being in another student society, but he still likes it more among the Friesians. We Friesians say: Om utens dochs thús. You're not at home, but you still get that home feeling.' 

Brabant in Wageningen
The Noaberschop was sparked off by a dispute within KSV; WSSFS began as an all-men group whose members got to know one another within Ceres. One by one, the clubs became independent. The Friesians have already been together for eighty years. 't  Noaberschop is now about forty years old. The Brabant Students' Guild was formed in 1926. 'As many Brabant students could not go home in the weekends because of limited means of transport, they decided to take Brabant to the Dutch universities', Suzanne Aarts says. 'Moreover, the students wanted to pass on some of their know-how to other Brabant students.' Gradually, interest within the clubs died down and many were dissolved. In the nineteen seventies, a group of Wageningen Brabant students began a revival. Wageningen is now the only city with a Brabant students' guild. 'Maybe it's because Wageningen is still difficult to reach by public transport', adds Suzanne.