Column: Bas Rooijakkers

Farewell TU Delft

Student columnist Bas Rooijakkers bids TU Delft and his readers farewell. In his last column, he lists what has changed at TU Delft (student activism) and what has stayed the same (the Executive Board).

Columnist Bas Rooijakkers zit op een bankje.

While doing my internship, in which I completed my study, I travelled to The Hague Central Station every day. I took the train at 08:30 and while cycling there I saw a whole platoon of students who were cycling from the station to TU Delft and took up the whole cycle path. This is a good metaphor for my current situation: the time has come to spread my wings and leave the student body. In this column I would like to briefly reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same at TU Delft in the years that I have studied here.

First, what has stayed the same. The Executive Board. It has come under fire recently, and rightly so. During my studies I happily took on various board positions in which I came into contact with several bodies at TU Delft, including the Executive Board. I have to say that working with everyone was always pleasant, whether they were cleaners or deans. Everyone thought about the issues and looked for solutions.

But working with the Executive Board was often rocky. They took decisions without consulting us, threatened to withdraw the Graduation Support Scheme months for boards that did not immediately respond to their requests. If this is comparable to how they deal with other colleagues, they then deserve the bad press that they have recently had. There is a lack of transparency and communication which is creating frustration and distrust among students and staff members.

When I started studying, I was surprised about the lack of protests and indignation

Apart from this, I see that there is a ‘culture change’ underway among students. They have more guts, which can be seen from the student protests (in Dutch) and the prosecution (in Dutch) of the young men who made ‘banga lists’ (lists of women for sexual exploitation). During my first two years of study, there were also news reports (in Dutch) about ‘banga lists’ and girls who had to change their telephone numbers because of distressing phone calls.

The student responsible was suspended, and we continued with our usual routines as if nothing had happened. Now, it seems that these sorts of things are no longer tolerated. And a good thing too. It is encouraging to see that a new generation of students has stood up and is speaking up about injustices and is actively working for a safer and more respectful environment.

When I started studying, I was surprised about the lack of protests and indignation about what was going on. I started just when the study loan system was being introduced, but everyone just seemed to accept the changes without offering any resistance. I had expected students to stand up and protest against the new rules that would put them at a financial disadvantage. I now see that protesting has made a comeback, with climate activists and students who set up camps in various student cities. This revival of activism is a sign that students are again aware of their collective strength and are prepared to stand up for their rights.

I want to thank everyone for reading my columns. It was a learning process for me. My writing has improved thanks to the feedback of the editors and friends. The compliments that I received meant that I enjoyed it more and more. Writing has helped me organise my thoughts and improve my writing skills. It has also enabled me to be part of wider discussions in the TU Delft community. Luckily there are three new student columnists who all have something to say. I have every confidence that they will also contribute to the debate and offer their own unique perspectives.

Bas Rooijakkers is a master’s student in Applied Physics. He was born in Brabant and spent part of his youth on Curaçao. He enjoys jogging and since the corona pandemic has also picked up cycling. He is also always in for a coffee or a craft beer.

Columnist Bas Rooijakkers

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