Changed from twelve to two

Maaike de Keulenaar

“Our message is: ‘enjoy your time as a student’”, says Eureka Week committee chair Maaike de Keulenaar on day one. “This year we’re focusing on all students, and the importance of alcohol varies a lot among the participants. Some of them come for all the partying, but we also have a great programme for students who are looking for something else”. On the cantus (singalong) evening, an open-air cinema is offered as an alternative activity.

This year, the organisers felt compelled to review their existing alcohol policy: “Students will notice that alcohol will only be served after 14:00. It’s a minor change, but it reduces the amount of time that alcohol will be served. Why start serving alcohol at noon? We felt that was very early, especially considering our programme continues until 11 in the evening.” Another measure is that no spirits will be sold this year.

The first beer

Business Administration student Ruben Bun will enter the history books as the first person to order a drink during this Eureka Week. At two o’clock sharp the 19-year-old guide took a big swig of his beer on Schouwburgplein – even though he didn’t know when he placed his order that he had beat out four thousand students to the first beer. “I wasn’t aware that the taps would open later this year, and I don’t think it’ll be a problem: I think in the coming days we’ll still be hungover when two o’clock comes around, so we won’t necessarily want to drink before then.”

He feels that alcohol helps you get to know each other better on a first day like this: “We don’t know each other, and the beer helps break the ice and get the conversation going.” He is especially looking forward to the beer cantus: “That was a lot of fun last year and I’m sure it’ll be just as much fun this year.”

The cantus: a celebration of music (and alcohol?)

In 2015, Rutger Engels, who has just taken up the position of Rector Magnificus and was then the director of the Trimbos-instituut (Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction), spoke out against holding a beer cantus during the introduction period. Alcohol consumption shouldn’t be encouraged during the introduction week: “That’s not appropriate for a university, and it certainly doesn’t fit in with an introduction week meant for 17 and 18-year-olds.”

Chair Maaike de Keulenaar explains that the cantus was also reviewed with regard to measures related to alcohol consumption, but it was decided that no changes would be made compared to last year’s edition: “The cantus is a fun and appealing event and is uneventful compared to other cities. Students have to remain seated, and there are no penalties that involve having to drink alcohol. It’s a party that features music as well as alcohol.”

Drinking is just part of university life

Micha Verschoor (18), who will be studying fiscal law starting this September, doesn’t agree with the Rector’s position. While taking a sip of his first beer of the day, he explains: “I feel that it (alcohol, ed.) is actually part of being at university. In my opinion it’s just a part of university life”. His guide Charlotte de Lange (20) – “Relatively speaking, I’ll be sober” – is amused by his remarks. “During the mentor training sessions we discussed alcohol extensively.” She agrees with fellow guide Ruben: “I think that alcohol helps break the ice on the first day and makes things a little more relaxed.” She is also looking forward to the cantus: “I don’t think it’s an event where you necessarily have to be really drunk. A cola cantus would be completely different, but you’ll still have fun if you’ve had a couple of beers.”

He and the other first-years drinking beer on Schouwburgplein don’t appear to be planning to drink less due to the tap opening two hours later, nor do they seem to be contemplating the risks attached to excessive drinking. Aernout de Leeuw (19, Economics and Law programme) lies in the grass recovering from an RSC party: “I started drinking at around one o’clock yesterday and by eight in the evening you’re down for the count. It’s cool if the tap opens a couple of hours later, you can party later into the night that way.”

The new first-years still have some tips for anyone who wants to make it through the week drunk but intact. Micha: “Eat properly; fortify yourself before you start drinking.” His friend Robbert van der Weide (19), who has just calculated out loud that he estimates he’ll drink about 50 more glasses of beer this week, adds: “Even though it’s a pity the tap doesn’t open until two o’clock, if you continue drinking and never stop, there’s no chance of getting a hangover either.”

Ruben Bun (l) is enjoying his first beer of the day