Nieuws - 19 april 2012

The ivory campus


The student council, the head office and Isric have already moved onto campus. Studium Generale follows suit next month, next year's big AID jamboree will be held on campus year and the Food4You festival is also retreating to the confines of the campus. Is the University of Wageningen deserting the town centre?

Laurens van de Zee
Wageningen's poet laureate

'In a manifesto by the artists' collective De tafel van W, I speculate about how we would reunite Wageningen town and Wageningen UR. I envisage, for instance, a super-link between the town and the university - for cars, bikes, pedestrians and hikers. A sort of red carpet: tasteful, safe, user-friendly and with no crossroads. We would get more exchange going in activities and events to get rid of the gap between town and university. We would move the Wageningen city boundary sign to the northern side of the campus. And lastly, the university would still have to shoulder its responsibility for the architectural heritage it leaves behind in the town: it would shamefacedly return the 'cooking pots' artwork that has been moved to the campus.'
Hugo de Vries
Fifth-year student who lives next door to the head office

'The buildings around me were first used by the university but now most of them are empty. I never really had any contact with the people who worked there but at least there were bikes outside the building and the streets were livelier. When the university flag was lowered, it was clear that it was leaving the town centre. I am not sure if that is a bad thing. I do think it is a pity that international students often stay around the area of the campus, the Bornsesteeg and the C1000.  That will only be made worse by the move. Like that they will never discover the joys of Wageningen town.'
Rob van Haarlem
Director of Studium Generale

'No, it is not a problem, given how close the town centre is. After all, Wageningen is not a metropolis - what difference does one and a half kilometres make? You can be in Arnhem in eleven minutes by train, and both Utrecht and Amsterdam are very close. And here we are whinging about a short bike ride. What you will get is precisely a nice campus atmosphere. I think the Forum is a vibrant building and Impulse will make a good contribution too. It would be fine by me if Wageningen becomes like American universities where everything is open 24/7. No problem if there are more houses on campus, and even pubs and shops. No, I don't understand this proposition at all.'

Sjaak Driessen
Director of Wageningen library

'Robbert Dijkgraaf, the departing chair of the KNAW, says science should come to the public more. I think this is unexplored territory. Now that the university has left the town centre, it will have to forge new links with the town. So many nice things go on in Wageningen UR, but too few people get to see them. For that reason, the departure of Food4You is a real shame. We hear talk of Wageningen University's links with the whole world, but what good does that do you if you have no links with your immediate environment? Now we focus on the beautiful new buildings and there is a general sense of euphoria, but that won't last. You need oxygen to breathe and a campus like that cannot provide its own oxygen. You need the outside world for creativity. In my library I see more and more students bent over their books. They would like to get away from the campus sometimes. There is something suffocating about it.'
Jo Soolsma
Socialist Party member of the municipal council and IT worker with Facilities and Services

'I am not afraid that the activities on the campus will affect the atmosphere in the town. How big is Wageningen, after all? I see the campus as simply a part of Wageningen town. What is more, many organizations are staying in the centre.  Movie W, for instance, and what used to be the WSO. Wageningen has only itself to blame for the fact that some things are moving out of the centre. Thanks to the budget cuts, the town council is no longer contributing to Food4You. I think moving all the artworks to the campus makes the town more boring. But on the other hand, the town has recently gained a gallery full of sculptures at the former Botanical Centre on the Dreijen.'

Simone Oostindie
Chair of the AID board

'This year we will be creating our festival terrain on the campus, since the head office has moved there. But we will still do all we can to make sure the new students get a good introduction to Wageningen town. Many of our activities, like the street theatre festival, will take place as usual in the town centre. I still think it's a very nice town centre. The student societies are not going to move and I don't see the nightlife shifting to the either. The atmosphere on campus may well improve with the arrival of catering outlets, Orion and new student housing, but I doubt whether it will be at the town's expense.'
Rob Ramaker & Kees van der Ark