VHL applied sciences university opened its academic year in Wageningen on Wednesday. Reporter Stijn van Gils was not welcomed. Not even in front of a video screen in Velp.
One of the employees comes to my rescue. 'Stijn is here to work for us too; I want to have my colleague with me.' I look on, dumbfounded. I had phoned several hours before to ask if I could be present. 'No problem,' was the answer then. And now, I am not allowed to view a presentation of the lecturers' success. 'Why don't you head for the video conference in Velp,' someone suggests.
The opening of the academic year is the first major official meeting since the announcement that VHL will be unbundled from Wageningen UR. 'I hope that VHL will now look outwards,' executive chairman Aalt Dijkhuizen had said during his announcement of the unbundling. This call seems to have fallen flat during the opening. The small room where it is held is half occupied.
Alright, I'll go to Velp. There, the presentation is being shown on a video screen in the staff room. Four employees are sitting in the room, while others keep moving in and out. They are either reading or preparing their lectures. The situation in Leeuwarden, as the video screen shows, is pretty much the same.
Meanwhile, the presentation goes on. 'You see, the majority of the Dutch eat meat, but at the same time, most of them also feel that animals should not be slaughtered for food.' I can hardly concentrate. Is this information so emotionally charged? My cell phone starts ringing. It's Judith Pierik on the line. She has probably spotted me via a webcam from Wageningen. Could I please leave the room? Completely taken by surprise once again, I make my way along the corridors of VHL Velp. A staff member remarked: 'Well, you were sort of sitting all alone. If there were also other people at the opening, you would not have stood out so much.'