OWee profile: how to arrange safety and security

OWee planning has required a whole new approach this year says Rik van Veen, Project Leader Integral Safety & Security. “It’s the first big event in Delft since March.”

Rik van Veen: “It was an interesting moment to start a new job." (Photo: Heather Montague)

“I started this position on 1 May so I started working on OWee immediately. I stepped in when they had already been planning for a few months. It was an interesting moment to start a new job, especially in terms of safety and security management.

When I started there were still a lot of uncertainties regarding the Covid regulations and what would be possible for the programme. The official possibilities were quite restricted about how many people could come together and what kind of activities were possible. But during the following months things started to open up again.

OWee is a really large event; it’s one of the biggest in the city of Delft. Normally there are 4,000 to 5,000 attendees. When I started, we thought it would be a completely digital programme and that was the first time that there would be no big festivities. It was a challenge for the OWee board because they can normally use parts of the previous programmes and adjust them a little bit, but this time they had to start all over again. So, over the last weeks and months when it became possible to do physical activities again, they had to start revising the plans that they had created from the beginning. It’s a completely different programme this year.

 ‘There are a few things that won’t be allowed anymore’

There are just a few of us in the department of Integrated Safety and Security Management. But there are also other departments that we work with like Health & Safety and Campus Safety & Security that help or advise in some ways depending on the activities. Another important party for us is the municipality of Delft for obtaining the required event permit. We’ve had excellent collaboration with them. And this year we also have to consider cyber security for the digital programme. We helped the board perform an integrated risk assessment for the programme, to find out what risks have to be considered and find solutions for them.

It’s the first big event in Delft since March, so the first with these measures in place. I think the programme is solid and we have good support. The student mentors have been be trained so we can manage it. But it’s the first time that we have the same programme for different groups seven days in a row. So if we see something the first day then we can make adjustments for the following days. And we also have to keep in mind that if we don’t follow the guidelines then the municipality of Delft can say that they won’t allow it to go ahead. It’s not a big concern, but we do have to be aware of that.

The Dutch government recently changed the Covid approach again at national level, especially regarding student introduction programmes. So there are a few things that won’t be allowed anymore. For example, on the terrace that is being planned, alcohol was permitted but that is forbidden now. And it’s also not possible to have large numbers of guests without reservations so we have to use a reservation system. But luckily, we had already thought about that and have something in place.

I really admire the way that the OWee board has been dealing with the constant changes. The programme gets scrambled and then they have to completely build it up again. They have done a really good job every time. We have all the confidence that the programme this year will be a great success.”

Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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