Delta news round-up

With the first semester of the academic coming to a close, a round up of some of the stories that made the news on the Dutch pages of Delta.

TU Delft staff and students continued to win prestigious national and international awards. “Proud” was Professor Albert Theuwissen upon receiving the Fuji Gold Medal Award for his ‘exceptional contribution to developing image chips’. The prize was awarded by the US ‘Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers’ (SMPTE). In 2007, Theuwissen, a part-time TU Delft professor, started his own successful service company, Harvest Imaging, named after the Neil Young album ‘Harvest’.
Two TU Delft students triumphed at the ‘Young Talent Awards’ held in Haarlem. The graduation research projects of Wibout Roukens and Sven Voormeren won the Bakkenist Young Talent Award (for information systems) and the Corus Young Talent Award (for mechanical engineering), respectively. The awards were worth 10,000 euro.
Roukens developed a touch-screen information system for motorcycle policemen, which was then tested by 60 Dutch motorcycle cops. Voormeren won his award for researching how vibrations from passenger car drivelines can displaced, thus optimizing the car’s driving comfort. Voormeren conducted his research for BMW.
These award-winning students should now perhaps consider pursuing PhD degrees. A Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) study found that the added value of having a PhD degree is greater than previously thought. Dutch PhDs get better jobs than non-PhDs and earn on average twenty percent higher salaries.

Apparently Delft is the most “homo-unfriendly” student towns in the Netherlands, according to gay men’s magazine, Expreszo, which analyzed the thirteen Dutch student towns according to factors like number of gay organizations and incidents of homophobia. The Delft Workgroup Homosexuality (DWH) has sent a letter to Delft municipality, demanding action be taken to protect gays from violence. In a Delta interview, DWH chairman Dirk-Jan Dekker said: “Things are happening and the police and municipality must act. The fact that a stone was thrown through our club’s window is proof that anti-gay violence happens here.”
“Not long ago two DWH members were pushed into a canal,” Dekker continues. “One of them managed to pull one of the attackers in as well. The attacker had fled by the time the police arrived, but the police didn’t pursue him, even though all they had to do was follow his wet footprints.” During TU Delft’s Owee first-year student introduction week, DWH’s outdoor bar was also splattered with water. DWH however remains defiant. “We won’t board up our window,” Dekker says. “We put new glass back in. We won’t give in to violence!”
Elsewhere, the fires at the two Oude Delft student houses last April remain a mystery. A judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict the main suspect, Chester W. [Dutch law prohibits publication of last names in criminal cases, ed.]. The judge however did convict Chester W. of starting fires at a Voldersgracht residence and in the Hotel Grand Canal on the Breestraat. Both those buildings are owned by Jaap den Dulk, as are the Oude Delft student houses. Chester W. received a six-year prison sentence for arson. He confessed to starting the Voldersgracht and De Breestraat fires, but claims the owner, Den Dulk, started the Oude Delft fires to collect the insurance money.
‘Engels mag Nederlands niet verdringen’ (‘English may not supplant Dutch’) was a headline in Delta 38. Higher education is becoming anglicized, warned Dutch politician Martin Bosma, speaking in Parliament. Bosma’s party, the right-wing PVV (Party for Freedom), prides itself on defending Holland’s Judeo-Christian and humanist traditions and culture, while opposing immigration from non-Western countries.
“Dutch is being reduced to some kind of farmer’s dialect that apparently is no longer good enough for higher education,” fumed Bosma, a former journalist who studied at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Dutch Minister of Education Ronald Plasterk then asked: “Is it really necessary for everything to be in English?”
Bosma went on to criticize ‘steenkolenengels’ (literally ‘pit coal English’, or broken English), and cited a typical example – “How do we underbuild this?” -, which led to a witty response from a center-left D66 party member: “I’m happy Mr. Bosma is against ‘steenkolenengels’, as this is the first environmentally friendly contribution he’s made in Parliament.”
Fortunately for TU Delft’s internationalization process, Bosma was feeling generous, saying: “In my opinion English doesn’t have to be banned from Dutch higher education. But I do believe certain borders must be drawn. Otherwise our entire higher education system will be in English, and this, I say, represents a serious erosion of our culture!”

Each week Delta’s back page features an item (in Dutch) called ‘Culture Shock’, in which an international student, photographed wearing wooden shoes, answers questions about life among the Dutch – ‘What do foreign students find strange about us?’
Sharon Goh, MSc from Singapore, appreciates Dutch directness, she says, “because I’m pretty direct myself.” She also says her Dutch friends taught her not to be so serious: “They showed me how to also have fun.” Goh hates the Dutch weather – “too cold, brrrr” – but loves what she calls “the bicycle thing.”
Canadian MSc Tomas Nielsen smiles at the Dutch obsession with planning. “If you want to make a lunch date, the Dutch grab their agendas and ask if next week Friday is good.” Nielsen loves all the festivals here, but hates the big foamy heads on Dutch draft beers. Sodaba Roustayar, a BSc from Afghanistan who has lived in Holland since she was 13-years-old, says the Dutch aren’t nationalistic, but they do “feel themselves better than others, especially foreigners.” Italian PhD Lucia d’Acunto thinks it odd that the Dutch swim in canals when it’s hot, while “in Italy that’s what the sea is for,” and especially since “the canals here aren’t very clean.”
Belgian Lammens Benoit likes the close relationships between professors and students in Holland. “In Belgium, professors are put on pedestals.” Benoit confesses to happily drinking Heineken, although in beer-proud Belgium he’d “be burned at the stake” for admitting it. Russian Anton Naruta is amused by the strange sounds the Dutch make when speaking, like, “Ja, tóggg, kch, pssss, jájá, ha, trrr” And he appreciates the differences between national police forces. “In Russia, give a cop a fifty ruble bribe and he’ll let you go. Try that here and they’ll throw you in jail.”
Stefano Barbieri, from Sardinia, Italy, thinks Dutch and Italian cultures are similar, but adds, “actually, almost everything works better in Holland than in Italy.” Dutch women however are much more standoffish: “In Italy the women play hard to get, but they’re actually easy to get. In Holland the women play hard to get, but they are hard to get.”

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