Column: Otto Kaaij

X (formerly Sports and Culture)

X (formerly called the Sports and Culture Centre) and the sports and cultural associations cannot do without each other. So why do the student associations have to struggle to get the support they need? This should not be the case, writes columnist Otto Kaaij.

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The choice offered on X’s website, TU Delft’s sports and cultural centre, is overwhelming. X proudly states that ‘X focuses on the needs of young people and has an extensive offer in the fields of sports, games, arts, crafts, reflection & lifestyle’. You can take sports classes, meditate, and learn boxing and 3D printing.

That is wonderful. X and I are clearly in agreement that hobbies like sports and music are crucial  for the mental health of students, who already under such pressure.

However, what you do not read on the website is that X has another important function: supporting the TU Delft students’ sports and cultural associations. These associations offer so very much. The – often voluntary – boards of big and small associations organise fabulous activities, often at a high standard, with the utmost energy and passion.

As a former member of two of these associations, I know they offer a lot more too. They help you feel at home in a university where, given the huge number of students, you often feel little more than just your student number. You can learn organisational skills, work with other people and make beautiful friendships so that you have someone to cry with if the piles of deadlines and exams get too much.

These are all things that a weekly ‘XCORE’ class or ‘Exhale, a social living room powered by X’ do not offer.

Behind the scenes, the associations have to struggle to keep going

To keep the associations accessible for everyone, support from TU Delft – and thus from X – is essential. For example, a student sports association cannot rent sports fields, material, give good quality support to members and stay affordable without financial support.

X only appears to admit this through gritted teeth. The associations’ activities are hardly mentioned on X’s website or in its communications. Behind the scenes, the associations have to struggle to keep going or to keep their activities affordable. From the outside, it looks as if X would rather have nothing to do with them.

The associations have to justify what they need, why, what the benefits are and that they really cannot do without support. As if the boards are only there to get as much money as they can.

This is a real shame. X and the associations need each other and this will not change in the short term. If only that collaboration would be easy and be on a basis of trust, X and the associations would benefit so much more from eachother.

Thus X, give the student associations a more prominent place in what you offer.

  • Have confidence in the associations and allow them some flexibility.
  • Recognise that the boards, despite being voluntary, inexperienced and sometimes clumsy, move mountains and do wonderful things.
  • Recognise that on its own, X will never be able to do what student associations do in terms of social development, mental health and meeting the needs of young people. Support the student associations on that basis.

Otto Kaaij is a Computer Sciences master’s student and musician. As a computer scientist he is passionate about algorithms, science communication and sustainable software, and as a musician he tries to work with as wide a spectrum of music as he can.

Columnist Otto Kaaij

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