Crowded bar
At the bar in the Bouwpub. (Photo: Thijs van Reeuwijk)

TU Delft’s new alcohol policy took effect on 1 January. Delta dropped by a few faculty bars to see if the glasses were half empty.

Lees in het Nederlands

On Friday afternoon at 16:30, the Board Members were busy setting everything up in the ID Kafee (Industrial Design Engineering). It is not an ordinary vrijmibo (Dutch slang for Friday afternoon drinks), but the closing of the anniversary week. Still, it is pretty quiet. The members that are there stand somewhat on the sidelines. Others are sitting on the bench with their laptops, working. The drinks has clearly not yet started. At the bar the glasses and bottles are being arranged, but the beer tap remains closed.

Now that TU Delft’s new alcohol policy took effect on 1 January, serving or consuming alcohol on campus is only permitted after 17:00. Drinks containing more than 15% alcohol are also banned, as is the use of ‘substances’. It is no longer permitted to keep food, drinks or packaging containing alcohol in ‘offices, laboratories, work areas, technical spaces etc.’. The use of alcohol for research purposes is permitted.

A shame, thinks Job Nuijen, Board Member of the IDE study association. “We used to start our vrijmibo at 16:00. A few employees would then also come for a beer. Now they have already gone home. It does not matter that much for the students who come for a drink. They often only came after lectures at 17:00 anyway.”

Multi-year plan
Precisely at 17:00 it starts: the first two beers are drawn from the tap. Members start arriving in groups. A short while later, almost all the students are chatting with a glass of beer in their hands despite the policy to discourage alcohol.

‘They are pushing it more and more’

Nuijen does understand why TU Delft wants to discourage the drinking of a lot of alcohol, but he does not support the policy. “It looks like it’s part of a multi-year plan. First it was ‘no strong liquor’, then the time was after 16:00, and now it’s after 17:00. They are pushing it more and more. Student associations change boards regularly, so the alcohol policy changes seem easier to implement, but it does not go by unnoticed. I think it’s gone too far now. I thought 16:00 was fine.”

He also does not accept TU Delft’s argument that alcohol is very unhealthy. “Student life is unhealthy.” Bachelor student Emma Binnendijk agrees with him. “Of course it’s not good for you, but it is your own choice. Very few accidents are caused by alcohol too. In general everyone is sensible. And it’s enjoyable.”

Less punctual
The Bouwpub (Architecture and the Built Environment) is less punctual for a change. This Thursday there is a committee behind the bar and that means that they need to quickly practice drawing beer five minutes before the clock strikes five. “It’s going well,” Lucas Hartog (between his bachelor’s and master’s), the bar manager, calls out in approval when the last committee member places a well filled glass on the bar.

‘So it’s actually making us drink more’

“The only thing I know is that the time at which alcohol may be served has changed,” Hartog says about the new policy. “We used to open at 17:00 on Tuesdays, and at 16:00 on Thursdays. We have now had to move the times and we close half an hour later on both days. It actually works in our favour as there never were many people between four and five.”

Hartog says that the new rules also have another advantage. “A larger group of people now comes in at 17:00.” He gestures towards the people who have since entered the bar. “We have only been open for four minutes and there’s already a great atmosphere.”

All in all, it seems that the new alcohol policy is having a positive effect on the Bouwpub. “We knew that it was on the cards, so we could prepare for it.”

Not less, but more
A beer in hand, Lisanne den Held, a master’s student, makes a point of criticism. “You do feel the effect of the Bouwpub closing later on your evening meal and the next day though. It is actually very unpleasant,” she says with a wink. “We never used to come here at 16:00, but now we’re here till 20:30. So it’s actually making us drink more.”

‘It is a shame that we did not have the opportunity to discuss this’

In the /Pub, in the basement of the EEMCS block, more criticism can be heard. An anonymous professor, a craft beer in hand, believes the new policy to be detrimental. “It clearly shows that TU Delft does not trust its students and staff members. This does not fit in the times in which we are living. It is also crazy to do this after the Covid period in which we learned how important social activities are for students’ well-being. Now they are doing the very opposite by limiting these kinds of drinks. Students tell me that they have an even greater need for social activities like this.”

Two former board members also drop by for a drink before going to a party in Leiden. Daan Schat notes that many students, especially first years, go home instead of to the drinks. “Most people came in between 16:00 and 17:00. Our board room is above this so when people finished their lectures at 15:30, they came to us for half an hour to relax before going to the /Pub. They do not sit around waiting for one-and-a-half hours.”

Stricter and stricter
Bart Zuidema expects that the policy will become even stricter. “If they limit it a little bit every couple of years, they think they can get away with it. But what can we do? If we serve alcohol before 17:00, we will probably have to close down immediately.”

  • Delta columnist Dap Hartmann is no fan of TU Delft’s new alcohol policy as you can read in this column.

Hein Schröder, a current Board Member of /Pub, joins the conversation. “It is a shame that we did not have the opportunity to discuss this. They came up with the idea and it had to happen.” Zuidema adds that “Though their goal was to reduce alcoholism, I do not believe that this is the way to do it. The people who were not able to come here will simply drink at home. I never hear people say that they will not drink alcohol because the /Pub only opens in an hour.” Schröder agrees. “You just give people less choice.”

Despite opening an hour later, when the lights in the Bouwpub go on again it is clear that the timing has not stopped the students. While the music continues to play, the full bar slowly starts to empty. While everyone looks for their bicycles, some students are again planning for tomorrow’s lectures. But for others, the evening is still young.