Anniversary of Radboud University

Radboud University (RU) is 95 years old. This means that the RU is celebrating its nineteenth lustrum year, and because of this lustrum activities will be organized for all students and employees of the university. In addition, alumni and inhabitants of Nijmegen and the surrounding area are also welcome. What does the university have in store?

Original text: Elisa Ros Villarte
Translation: Marit de Vries

Music and burning questions
The first lustrum activity is the final round of the Radboud Song Contest on March 15 in the new theater hall C. There the winning Radboud song will be announced, for which students and employees could send in their own songs. On May 24, Radboud Open Air will be organized, where scientists will hold brief lectures about various themes. They will give answers to questions like: Who owns the North Pole when it is melted? The lectures are held on locations across campus, so that a festival atmosphere is created, not unlike Radboud Rocks. That same night Radboud Rocks will be organized, where bands and DJs are to perform. In addition, study associations will compete with each other in a series of challenges during the Grote Studenten Battle (Great Student Battle).

Teachers in class and sports matches
In addition there will be Radboud Kids: Meet the professor on May 31. Ninety-five professors will ride their bikes to primary schools in the Nijmegen area wearing togas, where they will teach school children about their research. Children may ask any questions during these interactive classes. In honor of the university’s ninetieth anniversary a similar day had been organized. The last activity of the academic year 2017-2018 will be Radboud Sports on June 29 at the sports center, with all kinds of activities related to the lustrum year. This battle of the faculties was held for the first time five years ago in honor of the eighteenth lustrum. During this event the faculties of the RU and the Radboudumc battle for the Radboud Cup in categories like volleyball, hockey, tennis, football and basketball. Additionally the second edition of the Sports festival will be held, with workshops, music, and food and drinks.

Closing the Lustrum
During the rest of 2018 there will also be lustrum activities. Alumni can come to Radboud Recharge on October 5 and 6. On the sixth of October the RU will be opened for Radboud Invites when inhabitants from Nijmegen area can take a look behind the scenes in the academic world. They can get an impression of what kind of research is being done and there will be interactive activities for people of all ages. On October 18, the lustrum year will be closed with an academic ceremony during the dies natalis in the Stevenskerk. The dies has been moved from May to October because of the lustrum year. Various speakers will be present, and honorary doctorates and prizes will be awarded.

In general, it is known how the RU wants to celebrate the lustrum year, but even spokesperson Martijn Gerritsen is not yet aware of all the details. The fact that the RU is trying to organize a festive year is nevertheless evident.


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Awareness through educational escape room

In order to make students understand how people their age were faced with difficult moral choices during the Second World War, Radboud University (RU) has decided to open the educational escape room 'University in resistance' at the Valkhof Museum on Liberation Day. In doing so, a unique part of history is highlighted, namely the voluntary closing of the RU by the Rector Magnificus at that time, Bernard Hermesdorf.

Original text: Julia Mars
Translation: Ramadan Hasani

Forgotten past
In April of 1943, students of all Dutch universities had to sign a declaration of loyalty, stating that students 'will refrain from any action that is against the German Reich'. Hermesdorf, as the only rector in the Netherlands, refused to impose this declaration on his students. Supported by the other professors, Hermesdorf single-handedly shut down the university on April 11 1943.

'One of the main goals of the educational escape room is to make young people realize what kind of moral dilemmas students at that time had to go through', says fundraiser Eelco Keij, who came up with the idea with historians from the university. 'Within a short period of time students had to decide whether they would sign up to the occupiers for the Arbeitseinsatz (forced labor), or whether they would go into hiding, with the risk that their loved ones or family would have to face the consequences.' At the end of the educational escape room there will be an exposition which also connects to the present. 'We want to pass on the realization that the war and these moral dilemmas may seem far away for us, but that in other places around the world people still face these difficult moral choices on a daily basis, which can sometimes make the difference between life and death.'

Awareness for history
One of those students was Jozef van Hövell van Wezeveld and Westerflier, president of the Nijmegen student organization Carolus Magnus. By accepting the presidency he put a lot on the line because the asssociation was forbidden by the occupier at that time. By solving puzzles and questions the escape room lets participants put themselves in the shoes of the friends of Van Hövell. Van Hövell van Wezeveld and Westerflier was an important link in the student resistance and regularly took part in resistance activities. On March 28 1944 he was arrested and almost a year later he died in concentration camp Neuengamme due to exhaustion.

To target the biggest possible demographic, the educational escape room will be available in Dutch, English and German. Tickets will be available online starting April 11, exactly 75 years after the shutdown of the university in 1943. Attendees up to the age of 25 will get a discount.


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Brightspace pilots to be launched

As announced previously, Blackboard will be replaced by Brightspace in the academic year of 2018-2019. Starting this February, the Brightspace pilots will be launched in everyday education to test if the new learning environment fits with the wishes of students and teachers.

Original text: Elisa Ros Villarte
Translation: Marit de Vries

The new system has been chosen for its user friendliness, greater compatibility with mobile devices and integration with other systems such as Osiris. Professors will be able to follow a practice course through a digital tutorial named Sandbox during the course of 2018. This tutorial will stay open for use after the implementation of the new system, so that professors can experiment with the software without any risk for the educational content. To make sure the introduction and implementation of Brightspace will run as smoothly as possible, all professors will be following a basic training course as well. Through this course they can also familiarize themselves with the new Learning Management System and discover all of its possibilities and applications. This is beneficial to both professors and students, as all programs and faculties will be working in the same way.

Evidently the introduction of Brightspace is already in full swing. Come February, students will also be able to get a taste of the new program in TvA 1, where help desk staff is at hand to answer any possible questions. 'No doubt there will be some startup problems, but we are putting everything to work to make sure the changeover will run as smoothly as possible', said Daniël Wigboldus, chairman of the Executive Board, last week Monday in his New Year's speech. Hopefully the pilots will indeed be effective in preventing problems before Brightspace is officially introduced.


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Farewell in style

It is only a matter of time before the buildings of the Thomas van Aquinostraat (TvA) will be part of history. Before it will really be gone, students are lucky enough to get a chance to party in this concrete labyrinth at the TvA Tribute on Wednesday, January 17.

Original text: Vincent Veerbeek
Translation: Sander Nederveen

There will be a wide range of activities to choose from that evening, including laser gaming, escape rooms, and a silent disco. After years of daydreaming about an event like this, students and staff have finally come together to organize this grand spectacle. 'Back when talks about moving the faculties first began, there were already plans to organize something during the last week', says Bjorn Teeuwen, employee at the Nijmegen School of Management (NSM) and co-organizer of the TvA Tribute. 'Paintball was discussed often, but that would cause too much of a disruption, which is why we have chosen for laser gaming.'

Laser gaming and partying
As TvA 3 and 5 are to be demolished first, the activities will take place there. 'Laser gaming will be done in TvA 5', Teeuwen explains. 'One team gathers in the main hall, the other one at the bridge between Tva 3 and Tva 5, and then they need to find each other from there. Most of the furniture will be gone by that time, but we might put some things in there. When it is all empty it is less fun, because then the hallways will just be long and open.' When students are done playing with their laser guns, they can enjoy themselves in TvA 3 for food, drinks, and other entertainment. 'TvA 3 will be the central location,' Teeuwen says. There will be a bar, a food corner, a mechanical bull, and a live band. 'The intention is to create a festival atmosphere, a bit like the Campusnacht.'

Spectacle for everyone
A lot of students are also involved with the organization of the event. All five study associations from the NSM and three from the Faculty of Social Sciences are participating, as well as Nijmegen Student Sports Council, in light of their lustrum. The students are responsible for a large part of the organization, and they will also help on the evening itself, by taking care of activities such as standing behind the tap or checking tickets. There is also a lot of enthusiasm about the TvA Tribute outside of the faculties involved. Hundreds of people have expressed interest through the Facebook event, and at the first ticket sale last Wednesday, over 150 tickets were sold for laser gaming. 'The maximum number of tickets that we can sell is 400, but then all time slots will be filled with teams of 20', Teeuwen says. The rest of the event will for the most part be freely accessible. Teeuwen hopes it is going to be a university-wide success, so alumni and Radboud-staff are more than welcome.


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Living situation of international students investigated

Student union AKKU has looked into the housing of international students at Radboud University (RU) and University of Applied Sciences (HAN) in Nijmegen and Arnhem. According to a report presented recently, students in Nijmegen are generally secure in their accommodation, but there is room for improvement.

Original text: Vincent Veerbeek
Translation: Aafke van Pelt

Settling down
AKKU decided to instigate this investigation following commotion surrounding the living situation of international students elsewhere in the Netherlands last summer. In Nijmegen things do not seem to be so bad, but the student union was still curious to see what the exact situation was. The investigation was primarily focused on measures taken by institutions concerned with housing, such as the SSH& and the RU’s International Office (IO). Results show that about forty percent of international students are provided with housing by the housing department of the IO, which cooperates with student housing provider SSH&. Moreover, the IO stimulates students from Nijmegen who are going abroad to sublet their rooms. Students' complaints are primarily about practical matters such as rent prices and the facilities that are present.

Critical sidenote
Despite these predominantly positive findings, AKKU also cites some issues. One of these is for example a lack of integration since international students often live separated from Dutch students. Another problem the student union anticipates has to do with the fact that 'short-stay contracts' are heavily promoted – these are mostly meant for students who are here for one semester or a year and they offer fewer possibilities for students who are following their full study in Nijmegen. There is a chance problems will arise given the increasing number of foreign students who are doing their full studies here. Another risk is that many students find their housing through the private sector. In general, international students are not always as headstrong as need be, especially if the rental agreements are in Dutch. AKKU's primary advice is improved consultation between housing organizations and parties representing the wants and needs of international students, even if they are not directly concerned with housing.

In conclusion, the report shows that despite the fact that Nijmegen scores above average, there are still a considerable number of issues which need attention and there is definitely some room for improvement. The report partially confirms the statements made to ANS last September by Wessel Meijer, head of the IO.


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Never eat by yourself again

As of this week, there is a new addition to the sharing economy. After Airbnb and CouchSurfing for accommodation and Uber for transport, there is now an app that allows you to have dinner with strangers: Nibblr. The new app will be launched on Monday in Nijmegen.

Original text: Vincent Veerbeek
Translation: Ramadan Hasani

Dining with strangers
Founder Yannick Kampschoer describes the app as a 'social dining platform', with which people can meet each other while enjoying a self-made meal. Those who are inclined to show off their cooking skills to the world can invite people over. Those who would rather be lazy than tired can find an unknown chef nearby. 'We believe that people should make more time in their everyday lives for the people around them, and dinner is the perfect occasion for that', explains Kampschoer. 'With the app, users can show when and where they are cooking, what they are going to make, for how many people there is room, and what the price per guest is going to be. People who want to eat can take a look at the app and see what is available in their neighborhood.' After the dinner people can leave a review on the person with whom they had dinner. 'It is a kind of social measure, so you can be sure you will join a hospitable chef who is going to cook a tasty meal for you.'

Tasting curiously
The new app is a textbook example of the sharing economy, where the consumer has complete control. 'Initially we had this idea for a restaurant where you do not have your own table, but where strangers can dine together at large tables', says Kampschoer. 'However, because you already have everything at home there is no need for a restaurant, hence the app.' The concept behind the app is also apparent in the name, derived from the English word "to nibble". 'It refers to a unique way of tasting new things, both in regards to food and meeting new people', explains Kampschoer. 'We think this is a brand with which people can identify.'

Out together, home together
Now, a year and a half after the idea was first conceived, the app is ready for use. Starting Monday, the developers will promote their platform among students in Nijmegen. This will be done on the campus of Radboud University and at various SSH& complexes. The inventors of Nibblr want to expand to other student cities, including places such as Leiden, Utrecht and Amsterdam. However, for now the focus is on Nijmegen. 'We want to turn this into a success story, to show what role Nibblr can play in people's lives.' While Nibblr primarily targets students, Kampschoer hopes to expand the platform to other demographics. 'That way we hope to bring together many different kinds of people at the dinner table, who may turn out to have a lot in common.'


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Nijmegen establishes international student association

The foundation of an international student association in Nijmegen has become a definitive fact. The Dutch branch of the Erasmus Students Network (ESN), the organization for international student associations, has ratified this during a national convention earlier this month.

Original text: Elisa Ros Villarte
Translation: Ralf Corsten

The establishment
The name of the organization will be the International Student Network (ISN) Nijmegen. Sixteen branches of the ESN had already been established in the Netherlands, but not yet in Nijmegen. Lisette te Hennepe, graduate student Communication and Information Studies, and Annika Schiefner, graduate student Language and Communication, have been busy since June setting it all up. This way, they hope to fill the gap that had been created in 2010 when an earlier international student association was dissolved. Te Hennepe and Schiefner came up with the idea after seeing a large ESN branch in Tilburg, where almost all international students are members. 'We were wondering why Nijmegen did not yet have a student association run by and for the convenience of international students, and decided to do something about that', Te Hennepe explains.

ISN Nijmegen aims to target primarily those issues that can plague international students, such as cultural differences and a lack of belonging in the Netherlands thus far. 'Once a month, we will be organizing evening sessions in which we will discuss possible difficulties that international students may encounter', she explains. The association will not just be a point of contact for students, but also aims to further their integration. 'In that vein, we are a student association for internationally-minded students, and Dutch students are more than welcome', Te Hennepe says. ISN Nijmegen has already organized several events in the past few months, including a board game night and a treasure hunt. Future events may include weekly lunches, drinks, and other food-related activities, as well as field trips in the Netherlands.

Wide interest
Boudewijn Grievink, deputy head of the International Office (IO), is glad to see an organization for and by international students. 'We are happy with it and we also support it wholeheartedly. Radboud International Students (RIS) has previously organized social activities for this target audience in cooperation with the IO. I think it is a good development that ISN Nijmegen will now take on this task, especially with the university internationalizing further and more international students applying. However, RIS will continue to organize the Orientation week for international students. I think it will be a great enrichment of Nijmegen student life.' Te Hennepe herself has noticed wide-ranging interest for an international student association. 'We have at this moment forty-four people who have taken an interest in becoming a member of a committee, and all of our events have attracted at least thirty people.'

Last Sunday, the organization celebrated the ratification by the ESN with committee members and other interested people by going out to eat together and holding a beer tasting. Starting February 4, after the Orientation week for international students, ISN Nijmegen will begin organizing activities in its capacity as an official student association.


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Platform puts language studies back on the map

The number of students choosing a language education is steadily declining within The Netherlands. To emphasize the importance of language programs, the 'National Platform for the Languages' will be established as of April 1. This platform will be lobbying for multilingualism and will provide information about studies of the Arts throughout The Netherlands.

Original text: Julia Mars
Translation: Marissa Aarts

The platform is the result of a cooperation between seven academic institutions, including Radboud University (RU). Its aim is to argue for the importance of studies of the Arts at ministries, government institutions and businesses. 'With this platform, we aim to create attention for the fact that studies of the Arts are important and individual programs', says Prof. Dr. Margot van Mulken, dean of the Faculty of Arts. 'It will not only have an ambassador's function, but also that of an information platform. The platform will be lobbying at the ministry and the educational institutions for multilingualism, and will additionally provide information on languages and studies of the Arts for those interested.' The platform will intensify cooperation between educational institutions, for example with regard to the transition from hbo (universities of applied sciences) or secondary schools to university. 'Right now, there is no insight into the language capacities of hbo or secondary school students. hampers their transition to university or other education', mentions Van Mulken. Through better cooperation between the different educational institutions, they can better adapt themselves to the needs and learning progress of students.

Another goal of the platform is to stimulate innovation. An example of this is a closer cooperation between universities, so that students can attend courses at different universities. 'Due to the fact that Arts programs tend to be small, it is sometimes impossible to have an expert on every subject available', adds Van Mulken. 'That is why it should become easier for a student of French at the RU to follow a course at the University of Leiden, if there is an expert on the domain of literature during the French Revolution present.'


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RU presents its renewed campus

Last week Tuesday, the Radboud University (RU) posted an exciting animation video, displaying the changes that will occur on campus following the demolition of the buildings in the Thomas van Aquinostraat.

Original text: Vincent Veerbeek
Translation: Marissa Aarts

The video, which includes a catchy tune, shows how the TvA-buildings will be demolished over the course of 2018. After the demolition, a new building for the Faculty of Social Sciences will arise from the dust, which should be ready by 2020. It will be the most sustainable building on campus, equipped with solar panels and geothermal heating, as a result of which it can run on renewable energy. The proceedings will start in February next year, but the first wrecking ball will not hit the gray concrete until the summer. Lampposts, bicycle racks and other street furniture that surround TvA right now will not become museum objects, but will be given a second life on the grounds of the Berchmanianum. This former monastery will also come to serve as a university buidling.

With the closing of the TvA buildings approaching, the relocation of the Nijmegen School of Management to the renewed Gymnasion is also getting closer. The first moving boxes have been brought to the sports center earlier this week, and the new building will be used as of January.



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Second regatta on the Spiegelwaal

On March 31, Phocas will organize another rowing competition on the Spiegelwaal, which seems to make the Traianus Regatta, organized for the first time last fall, a lasting phenomenon.

Original text: Vincent Veerbeek
Translation: Ilse Peeters

After ten years without sizable rowing competitions, Nijmegen has now become, thanks to the Spiegelwaal, an important location for national rowing events again. The first edition of the regatta, held in October, went smoothly and the participants came from all over The Netherlands. Given the success of that competition, Phocas has decided to organize a second edition this spring, as was announced by the rowing club in a press release on Monday.

The second Traianus Regatta is supposed to be even bigger than the last edition, with twice as many participants and more entertainment along the side. Local authorities and people living in the vicinity of the Spiegelwaal are closely involved in the process as well, in order to prevent any kind of disturbance. Local residents are kept up-to-date via flyers and good contact is maintained between the various parties, the same way as last time. Phocas mainly aims to organize a successful event for rowers and spectators, a tradition that the association hopes to carry on.


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Students and staff get to decide Refter's new look

As has been known for some time, The Refter is going to be completely transformed over the course of the upcoming year. To get ideas for the design of the new Refter, the Facilities & Services Department (F&S) is reaching out to Radboud students and staff for help.

Original text: Jean Querelle
Translation: Ramadan Hasani

We already knew that The Refter was going to be remodeled into an actual food court the upcoming year. This way students can easily put together their own meals. Along with those changes, there will be two commercial venues. To give shape to the renovation, F&S wants to take into consideration the opinions of students and staff. 'With a questionnaire we want to gain information from the users of the facilities', says David Niessen, head of the department Retail and Catering of F&S. The questionnaire that F&S has provided for students and staff does not only concern the shape of the chairs and where they will be placed, the design of the menu is also determined by the visitors. 'With the help of mood boards, visitors can get an impression of the atmosphere in the new Refter. We do not know exactly how it will end up looking, but that is why people can choose between the different atmospheres on the mood boards.'

Nevertheless, the actual construction is still not due for some time. 'We have not set an exact date yet but we aim to realize as much as possible in September 2018', Niessen explains. Most of the work will be done during the summer vacation. 'There is also a small reward for the most enthusiastic respondents of the questionnaire.' Participants will get a coffee coupon they can exchange at one of the catering establishments on campus.


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TvA closed as of next week

Starting next week, strolls between the grey concrete of the Thomas van Aquinostraat (TvA) are in the past. On Monday February 5, the street will be closed to pave the way for the demolition, as the Nijmegen School of Management announced on Twitter last Tuesday.

Original text: Vincent Veerbeek
Translation: Evelien Müller

As of Monday, the passage between the university buildings will be blocked. The doors of TvA 3, 4 and 5 were closed earlier this month, although they were briefly re-opened for the TvA Tribute on Wednesday January 17. After Monday, TvA 2 will be closed as well, which means that this Friday will be the last day that the study rooms can be used. From next week on, students can go to TvA 1 to study, which will remain open for the time being. TvA 6 will not be closed for some time, either, since that building will be demolished this summer.

The Nijmegen School of Management has by now moved to the new Elinor Ostrom building, which was previously the Gymnasion. In the upcoming years, a new building will take the place of the TvA colossi to facilitate the Faculty of Social Sciences.


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Typing instead of writing

Starting in 2018, the Radboud University (RU) will take a further step in the direction of digitalized education: in February, the RU will start a pilot in which students will no longer be allowed to use pen and paper during their exams, but will be using laptops instead. The aim of this pilot is for teachers to gain experience with this new way of examination, which is going to be definitively launched later in 2018.

Original text: Danique Janssen
Translation: Evelien Müller

Practical considerations
The RU has purchased 578 Chromebooks and has invested in software, Cirrus Assessment, that will allow tests to be taken digitally. The laptops are stored in carts at the Gymnasion, in which they are charged. The carts allow for easy transportation to the location of an exam. 'The battery life of the laptops is 12 hours, so students do not need to worry about their laptops dying during an exam', Jos in den Bosch says, who is the program manager of IT and Education. Even if this were to happen, this would be no reason to panic. 'The software constantly monitors what the student is working on, and directly saves all progress. If something bad were to happen, the students can return to their work on a spare laptop immediately.'

All-round advantages
According to In den Bosch, the initiative offers several advantages. The digitalisation allows for new methods of testing. Furthermore, video and audio fragments can now be used. The RU, furthermore, wants to meet the modern student halfway. 'Students follow seven weeks of classes in which they take notes on their laptops, but they still have to do their exams using pen and paper. They have grown up in a world full of digital tools. A written exam simply does not match their perspective on the world', In den Bosch explains. Teachers will also enjoy the advantages, because the marking of exams will become quicker and more efficient. 'I heard some teachers say that they spend more time trying to decipher handwritings than actually checking the answers. That problem will be solved with this initiative.'

More digitalization
The RU has been working hard on digitalization and improvements in this field for some time now. Earlier this year, all student files were digitalized. Moreover, it was announced that the RU will switch from Blackboard to a new program called Brightspace sometime in 2018. Furthermore, 'testing grounds' for IT and Education have been introduced. These are spaces in which the RU gives people with innovative ideas the opportunity to test them. By switching to laptop exams, the university is making huge advances in the digital era.


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