‘Why act differently just to fit in?’

Anna Knops (19, second-year Criminology), SSR member since 2016

“When I participated in Eurekaweek last year, I immediately signed up to join SSR. I’m from south-Limburg and I didn’t know anyone here yet, so I was really ready to meet new people. In one fell swoop I had a huge network. I knew right away that I would choose SSR. Even though Laurentius was terrific and an attractive choice, I felt SSR gave me more scope to be myself. Why act differently just to fit in?”

“There are certainly differences at SSR. Some associations are more like fraternities or sororities than others, but in the end, there’s something for everyone. It’s quite funny to see that there’s an association for every type of student. I’m a member of a very active mixed association called Diaboli. The fact that it’s so active was one of the reasons I joined. I’m quite active as well. I’m a member of the association committee and part of the 2018 Eurekaweek committee.”

“The hazing period during initiation was very useful for me. It was rough going sometimes, but I managed to get through it. It made me a more mature person. If there’s something difficult in my life, I say to myself: ‘Don’t be such a baby. You managed to get through the initiation period. And you can pull out at any time. It’s too bad there’s such a fuss about hazing activities during initiation. It doesn’t really inspire people to become members.”

“This year is SSR’s 100th anniversary. In my opinion there’s not much of a difference between then and now, maybe just in some practical aspects. We pay for our beer with debit cards instead of cash, and we drink from plastic cups instead of glass ones. But the mentality and the traditions haven’t changed. Once pub night begins, everyone puts away their mobile phones and they only talk to each other. Just like a hundred years ago. At the most we’ve become a bit more civilised. There’s a men’s association that sometimes wears kilts and I’ve heard stories that in the past they just urinated at the bar. Of course, something like that is unthinkable now. And in the past there weren’t any female members. In that regard, I’m very happy that I’m at university in this day and age.”

‘At least I wouldn’t have to spend my evenings sitting on the couch with my landlady’

Cees Coumou (76, Econometrics, retired) became an SSR member in 1962


“When I started university in 1962, pillarisation still played a strong role. It was much easier to find student housing through church connections and student societies were often associated with specific religious denominations. Within no time, a senior student from what was then the Protestant SSR was at my door and it didn’t take much to convince me. At least now I wouldn’t have to spend my evenings sitting on the couch next to my landlady. She had a television, you see, and she was a little afraid of it. If I was there, then she was willing to turn it on and watch it.”

“Back then, studying at a university was not as common as it is now. You were often the first one in your family to attend university and you had no idea how it all worked. Then a student society was a significant source of support. That was also true in my case. All at once I got to know a bunch of new people and I had something fun to do every evening. You always ate at the student restaurant and then you stuck around for drinks. Sometimes there were members who took this to extremes. No one paid attention if you decided to play billiards at two in the afternoon or spent day after day in a pub. There was a lot of binge drinking and sometimes people ended up in the hospital.”

“I didn’t indulge all that much in alcohol, by the way. I had previously done military service, so I was a little older and more serious than the others. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time at university. I was active in our association Wodan and I was chair of the student shooting society. We would all go to the Waalsdorpervlakte and spend the entire day shooting. Great times.”

“The hazing during initiation was no problem at all. At SSR it was always more about reasoning rather than physical humiliation – it still is. Something that is different is the number of women who became members: there was one in the year after I joined, but we never ran into her again. The hazing activities did take into account that there were female participants. For example, they thought it would be funny to lock up the female first-years in a room with mice. They figured the women would jump up on the table and start screaming, but these were apparently some tough ladies. They mostly felt sorry for the mice and immediately started catching them. Fortunately, SSR is now a fully mixed society where the women take part in all the activities.”

‘It sounds like a cliché, but the friends you make at SSR are friendships for life’

Jack Dijke (46, lawyer) became an SSR member in 1992


“I only became a member in my second year. After I passed my law propaedeutic year, I still felt like there was something missing. Rotterdam was also a very different city compared to what it is now. There wasn’t as much nightlife, and if you wanted to have a bit of fun during your time at university, you had to rely on a society. If you’re at university, you should be a member. That’s how I looked at it. I also really wanted to do extracurricular activities and I certainly had enough spare time. Unlike now, we didn’t have many lectures at law school at that time.”

“I signed up for SSR with a friend from secondary school. From the very start I felt myself drawn to this society. Of course, I also looked at other societies, but SSR had the strongest hold on me. This was mainly because there were so many different kinds of people there. Everyone was welcome, and you could simply be yourself. This was also clearly reflected in the associations: one was more jacket-and-tie and strict in the student protocols and mores, while another was far more informal – it’s fantastic that both options could coexist. I was a member of the oldest association NIREA, which is also a mixed association.”

“Looking back on my time with SSR, what I think about most are the amazing friendships. I became a member more than 25 years ago and I still know a lot of people from SSR that I meet up with regularly. It sounds like a cliché but it’s true: these are friendships for life. I also learned a lot from the SSR activities I organised and participated in. I was a member of the association committee, society committee, the pub week committee, the supervisory board, and I was president of the yearbook committee and initiation committee as well. I learned a lot of things in an informal way just by being involved: networking, making arrangements and coming up with activities, taking the initiative. In short, I have fond memories of my time at SSR. The only thing I would change would be to maybe use my time differently. At one point I was almost exclusively involved in SSR activities. In the end, there wasn’t much else. Perhaps, looking back, I missed out on some things. If I was at university now, I would definitely study abroad and take part in more activities outside of SSR. But I have to say I just really enjoyed it there.”