The OWee, the reception week for new students and the Introduction Programme (IP, introduction week for master, exchange and transition students) will not be held on 20 August, but on 13 August instead. This is one week earlier than usual. This is what emerged from the monthly meeting of the Student Council and the Executive Board.
It will have serious consequences. It will cause an overlap between different parts of the introduction programmes. Programme parts such as the introduction period of student associations may have to be brought forward by a week. This in turn may cause a gap of one or two weeks without any organised activities between the introduction period and the start of the new academic year. And whether international students will then be in the Netherlands or not is still up in the air.
The reason for bringing the introduction programme forward is ‘last year’s negative experiences’ states correspondence in Delta’s possession. The reference is in a strongly worded letter with attachment (both in Dutch) from Vice Rector Rob Mudde to the Mayor and Municipal Executive in response to the rejection of the permit. The latter cites complaints of noise from the opening party and the fireworks show that followed it in 2022. It was unfortunate timing as the noise fell exactly in the night before the start of the new school year.
Mayor Marja van Bijsterveldt had previously told the ‘Algemeen Dagblad’ newspaper (in Dutch) ‘that if it were at all possible to hold the OWee in the last week of the school holidays, this would be the preferred option’. Many Delft residents would then be on holiday so that fewer residents would experience disturbances. The last week is thus the week of 13 August.
At the time, the organisers were not told of this but read this in the newspaper, says Alex Lokhorst. As the Liaison Community Relations, he maintains the contact between TU Delft or students and the people of Delft and is closely involved in the organisation of the OWee. “We were not officially informed of this. I thus sought contact with the Mayor to verify the notice.”
In the hope of changing the Mayor’s mind, since August Lokhorst has been in discussion with the civil servants involved in the OWee on behalf of TU Delft. “During the discussions, I picked up signals that the permit may be granted, possibly with some adjustments. The civil servants actually confirmed what emerged from the evaluations – that problems do not occur so much during the OWee activities, but rather in the period after the start of the academic year.”
‘The Municipality is heading towards chaos in the city’
After months of uncertainty, the OWee organisers received a letter on 18 January which stated that no permit will be issued for the week of 20 August. Lokhorst is frustrated that, in his eyes, no open discussion has been held in all these months between TU Delft, the various introduction committees, and the Municipality. The only option available was just some contact with civil servants. “Why could we not jointly discuss what is best for the city?”
Joost Ravoo, Communications Director of TU Delft, believes that the Municipality is heading towards chaos in Delft. “The OWee always follows a well thought-through format which keeps the student population occupied from the first years’ weekend to the OWee and introduction period.” He is concerned that moving the OWee and the Introduction Programme will negatively affect the purpose of the introduction period. “The turnout will probably be lower if the introduction period falls in the middle of the holiday period. This means that more students will miss out on information – that is agreed in consultation with the Municipality – on becoming good citizens of Delft and on social safety, well-being and behaviour. Apart from that it will lead to one or two empty weeks. What will the students do in this period? They may go home, but they may also stay in Delft. We will not be able to run any programmes for them. There will thus be no guidance from TU Delft and no activities for the students.”
Ravoo believes that this ‘error’ on the part of the Municipality will cause more friction between students and residents. “Normally we organise the introduction period jointly with the associations and the Municipality. That is the OWee’s strength. This will not be the case this year and we foresee that the city will be a big mess during the activity-free period. Of course I hope that this will not be the case as we would rather keep control of the situation. But now the very instrument that enables us to do this is being taken away by the Municipality of Delft.”
Universities of applied sciences
TU Delft will shortly apply for a new permit to hold the OWee in the week of 13 August. The changed date will not only affect TU Delft, but also The Hague University of Applied Sciences and InHolland whose first year students also join the reception period. Further, TU Delft students who will take a dual study at institutions with introduction weeks in the same period, such as Leiden University, will also be affected.
Another question is whether there will be enough working students (senior students who are paid to help out during the introduction period) available in the week of 13 August. Lokhorst says that “the introduction programmes are dependent on senior students. They help the organisers and with setting up and taking down events. On top of this, dozens of TU Delft staff members are essential in this period. The question now is whether there will be enough of them available given the planned holidays.” Still, he does not expect the Municipality to reverse its decision. “There is zero chance of this. But whatever happens, we will do everything we can with everyone involved to welcome our future students to Delft.”
- Delta asked the municipality of Delft for a response, but the municipality could not be reached for comments by phone or in writing on Friday.