Science - February 2, 2006

International Club flourishes again

Rebounding from a somewhat poor reputation just five years ago, the International Club today is attracting plenty of visitors to its events. On any given Thursday, the fresh wind blowing through the old clubhouse currently brings in about 150 dancing cosmopolitans. The town council, however, has different plans for the small, dishevelled plot of land on the Marijkeweg.

‘The International Club was definitely in dire straights,’ recalls chair Kitty Cruden. ‘It was so bad that a new club for international students was established five years ago: ISO. But now that we have a new board, a new club name and different weekly events, things have improved a lot. Getting the word out through the introduction days and the workshops that we give for students is helping to attract more attention; and interest in the club keeps growing.’

The New International Club Association, as the club is now called, was established almost five years ago. The club was originally set up by the municipality and the university as a place for Dutch and foreign university employees and students to integrate. However, despite its rich history, the club had become pretty quiet in the last ten years. Students stopped coming, subsidies dried up and the club suffered from debts, alcohol abuse and occasional brawls. For the past three years the board has consisted of chair Cruden, a Slovakian student and two international non-students. The club now also has a real advisory committee again with one member from Africa and another from Surinam. According to the 1958 statutes, the mayor of Wageningen and the rector of the university are also members of this committee. ‘But they have never shown up to any of our board meetings,’ says Cruden.

On Thursdays and Saturdays the club puts on discos and on some special days the board organises salsa and soul parties. Alexander, an MSc student, is a regular visitor: ‘I enjoy the parties; there are always lots of people, many Spaniards, and lots of Latino influences.’

‘Now that a lot of international and Dutch students are coming again, another uncertainty has cropped up,’ Cruden continues. ‘The municipality wants to develop this little area and is planning to build offices and houses. Our farmhouse may get demolished in 2008, but since it was the municipality itself that originally established the club, we expect to get some help in finding a new accommodation.’ According to the council member responsible for social affairs, Tineke Stik, the ICA farmhouse will probably be demolished at the end of 2007, but it is the club’s own responsibility to find a new location. ‘The building is owned by the municipality and they don’t pay any rent, so they will have to find a new place themselves.’ / MV

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