The associations are bursting at the seams in terms of popularity, just like student associations in other cities. This year, they have all introduced membership caps or lotteries. “It’s obviously amazing to see so much enthusiasm, but it also means having to disappoint people, which is a shame,” says Friso van der Werf from RSC/RVSV. He says that the membership cap is partly due to the limited building capacity but is also important for the atmosphere. Now every member can attend drinks evenings if they wish.
With 397 registrations, the fraternity is the biggest association, followed by Laurentius with around 300 aspiring members. This year, SSR welcomed 240 new members, RSG 150 and NSR . Student rowing association Skadi has not shared exact numbers but is proud that enrolments have doubled compared with other years.
(Association) size matters
All the associations appear to have reached the limit of their growth. It is simply impossible to accommodate more students in the associations. President of Laurentius, Chiel Stalenhoef, explains that their capacity plan – drawn up in consultation with the fire service – stipulates that their building can accommodate a maximum of three hundred new members.
NSR is the exception to the rule. President Thijs van der Kooij: “Despite having a large building, we aim to enrol eighty new members a year, because we want to keep our meetings small. This is because of the relaxed character required for deep (group) discussions. We obviously have a reasonably steady number of new members every year, because we are the most logical choice for Christian students wanting to join an association.”
‘More places needed at student societies’
The student societies want to be able to accept more members. Because of the great…
So do the associations that are reaching the capacity of their building still want to expand? Perhaps, say most of them, but it’s not easy. Luuk Ros, president of SSR: “Our building is currently undergoing maintenance, which isn’t cheap. We just don’t have the money to expand any time soon, even if we wanted to.”
As such, Ros reinforces the call made by the National Chamber of Associations (LKVV) several weeks ago. The umbrella organisation asked universities and municipalities about expansion possibilities and financial support for student associations.
Introductory camp stopped early
Despite all the associations embarking on their introductory activities at maximum capacity, everything went well. There were no Amsterdam-style scenarios, according to the Rotterdam student associations. However, the RSG stopped its first introductory camp a day early due to cases of Covid.
Micha Tielemans from RSG explains: “Despite PCR testing before the start, there were still several positive Covid cases among participants. In consultation with the GGD, we initially sent close contacts home, but eventually we stopped the introductory camp a day before the final day. Safety has priority, so we decided to put caution above the final day’s programme.”
The other associations had a virus-free introductory period. Again, they adjusted to Covid measures, but they are pleased that they achieved their goals. “Our goal during the introductory period isn’t to reduce the number of aspiring members, as has happened elsewhere in the country, but to create bonds in the year group,” says Luuk Ros from SSR. “We definitely achieved that and I’m very pleased with how everything went. The pandemic has brought nothing but uncertainty, but we are delighted that we can reopen with some measures. Our members are looking forward to spending a nice evening together in the association.”