Every student association has its own traditions, and therefore its own unique words and expressions. At the Rotterdamsch Studenten Gezelschap (RSG), for example, many things revolve around Nordic mythology, while the Navigators Studentenvereniging Rotterdam (NSR) has incorporated Christian elements into its culture.

Dancing the night away in Thor

Irene Rutten is studying Criminology and is a second-year member at RSG. She explains that at RSG, many things have to do with Nordic mythology. This is because in 1937, a competition was held within the association for the purpose of coming up with suitable names for its various aspects. Two first-year members then came up with the name ‘Asker’ for the building. Asker means ‘the first human’, the beginning of human life. The idea is that the physical location is the most important part of RSG. Students could win the princely sum of two guilders in this competition. Today, RSG is housed in its fifth building: Asker V.

Like the building, the bar and party room take their names from Nordic mythology as well. The party room is called Thor and the bar is Midgard. “On Wednesday nights, we always meet for drinks in the party room, which means we go dancing in Thor”, says Irene. “And after meetings, we often ask each other if we should go have another drink in Midgard.”

Ducks at Laurentius

While RSG got its names thanks to a competition, R.S.V. Sanctus Laurentius gained its nickname in a less deliberate way. In the old building on Vondelweg (which was home to the association until 1985), evening ‘socials’ took place in the basement. One day, there was a heavy rainstorm, which completely flooded the party room. While this was a bummer for members, it didn’t mean no one was using the basement. A true story, according to Laurentius alums.

Unfortunately, due to the flooding, the basement was no longer suitable for partying in. The party room was moved to another floor, but memory of the ducks has endured, even when the association moved to new premises. In fact, the party room has been known as De Eend (‘The Duck’) ever since.

The Virgin Room

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Image credit: Femke Legué

Within S.S.R.-Rotterdam, the various rooms of the association’s building are generally named after the committees that meet in them – except for the Maagdenkamer (‘Virgin Room’). The Virgin Room is named after the symbol of the S.S.R. Union, an alliance between several Reformed S.S.R. student associations in the Netherlands. The symbol is the Union Virgin (i.e. a maiden)  who, with her left arm, leans on a book atop a column. This all refers to the motto of the S.S.R. Union: Libertas ex Veritate, or ‘Freedom obtained from Truth’.

In 1969, the Rotterdam branch severed its ties with the Union and decided not to involve religion in the student association anymore. According to member and history student Joost van der Linden, the Union Virgin was stolen from S.S.R.-Wageningen by the so-called ‘three musketeers’ of S.S.R.-Rotterdam – and a few weeks later the association building in Wageningen caught fire. “Those Three Musketeers were members of S.S.R.-Rotterdam, so they secured the Union Virgin and now she hangs in our Virgin Room”, Joost says. According to Joost, however, the name ‘Virgin Room’ is a bit ironic. “Used condoms are regularly found there.”

Old poop

At the Christian student association NSR, there is a table on the raised platform in the bar hall called the ‘old poop’ (oude poep). You are only allowed to sit at the old poop if you are a senior student or are or a current or former member of the building management committee. The table is all about status, because students from the lower years can be invited to the table as well. Sociology student and second-year member Janiek Poker did get to sit at the table as a freshman. “I find it a funny concept myself, but I do know that some members find it unnecessary and call it status abuse”, says Janiek. “The story goes that the founder of NSR once wanted to demolish the table because he wanted everyone within the association to be equal, but the table is still there today.”

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