No matter how clever students are, they can’t know everything. So if you have any pressing questions, by all means ask EM. Because whatever it is you want to know, EM will be able to help you!

Suffering societies?

I’ve just arrived at this university, but I really don’t feel like any of that fraternity-like nonsense, so I’m not joining a student society. Is that going to prove disadvantageous in any way?
Don’t Feel Like Being Hazed, Barendrecht

Strange but true: as far as both schools’ spokespersons can tell, neither the Erasmus School of Economics nor the Sociology department has ever looked into this. In other words, this would be an excellent subject for a thesis or PhD dissertation. Remember this question!

While there are no data on EUR students, there is a British study which shows that members of student societies are more successful due to their higher degree of social integration, but Rotterdam is not exactly Oxford. That said, there is a clear correlation in the Netherlands between “members of student societies” and “successful careers”: two-thirds of Dutch people wielding great influence were once members of student societies, and a disproportionate percentage of high-ranking managers in the business community were once new club members waiting to be initiated, too.

Fortunately for you, you can strike a happy medium, says Inez de Jong, Chairwoman of the Rotterdamsch Studenten Gezelschap. “At RSG, we perfectly understand that you don’t feel like any of that ‘fraternity-like nonsense’. For that reason, our society doesn’t haze first-year members, among other things.”

Support your local criminal

I’ve been a student here for three years now, during which time I’ve had six bicycles stolen (maybe more, but I’ve lost count). When that happens, I always buy a bike from a reputable vendor, because I think I’ll support criminals if I don’t. But is that actually true?
Alexander Passchier, Rotterdam

Yes, that is true, says Marjolein Streng, a community policewoman with the Rotterdam Police Service. “One of the causes of bike theft is the fact that students are unwilling to pay much for their bikes. Because if there is no demand, there won’t be a market for stolen bikes!” You see, bicycle thieves always seek out places where it’s easy for them to steal bikes and sell them to others. “One of those spots is wherever students are, because there’s a demand for bikes there.”

It does raise a question: how do you get a bike that’s guaranteed to be legal? Well, you will obviously have to refrain from buying absurdly cheap bicycles. A few other tips from Officer Streng: check with the national bike theft registry whether the bike was stolen, check whether the original lock was replaced or damaged, and check whether the frame number has been rendered illegible.

Got a question for EM? E-mail it (anonymously) to [email protected], putting ‘readers’ questions’ in the subject line, or ask your question directly in the comments