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Entries for March 2018

The Janus face of writing

The Janus face of writing

I'm supposed to be doing laundry, but I can't tear myself from my computer. I should be making the baby’s breakfast, but I'm writing. I ought to be heading out to vote – but I'm writing. For writers, writing is a necessity, like breathing or (in my case) eating double-caramel Magnums. And by writers I don’t mean...

Unacceptable behaviour: 240 employees suffered from it in 2017

MAASTRICHT. At least 240 employees at this university encountered an instance of ‘unacceptable  behaviour’ at least once last year. Approximately 50 of them can call themselves victims of repeated improper treatment. The Executive Board feels “every case is one too many”.
XXL weeks at University Library

XXL weeks at University Library

MAASTRICHT. It is time for the XXL weeks at the University Library again. This means that the library is bursting at its seams with students studying. Elise Abraham, second-year student of Economics from Belgium and Mimi Ahlsrog, second-year student of International Business from Finland, can be found at the Inner-City University Library every day....

Psychology awarding grants again

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences is going to award seven scholarships annually to bachelor's students. Three of those will be for Dutch students, three for students from within the EU and one for a student from outside the EU. They will either be exempt from paying tuition fees for three years or will be reimbursed.
“What would put you on cloud nine when it comes to food at UM?”

“What would put you on cloud nine when it comes to food at UM?”

MAASTRICHT. The contract with Maastricht University’s current caterer  Albron  will expire in 2020. A new tendering process would usually involve project teams and steering groups, but this time Facility Services want to take a different approach. The entire university community will get to have its say during ‘roadshows&rsquo...

Dutch diplomat recalled from Turkey after spying allegations in local press

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch diplomat outed as a spy in Turkish newspapers has been brought back to the Netherlands for his own safety, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.
Not one missed Dutch Springsteen concert since 1985

Not one missed Dutch Springsteen concert since 1985

Philip Kalisvaart (57) is process coordinator for collection management at the University Library and, in his own words, an “extreme fan” of Bruce Springsteen. In 2016 he had the words of two of Springsteen’s songs tattooed on his upper arms: ‘Thunder road’ on the right and ‘Two hearts’ on the left. &ldq...

Cheaper parking for green cars among plans to cut air pollution

THE NETHERLANDS. Parking charges could be cut for drivers of eco-friendly cars as part of the government’s plans to meet pollution targets.
Why we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s

Why we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s

After oncology, most research money goes to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Among people over 80 years of age, dementia prevalence exceeds 20%. Paradoxically though, our knowledge of the brain has increased more than ever in the past decades, yet this is not yielding more new medi...
New Party M:OED earns two seats in city council

New Party M:OED earns two seats in city council

MAASTRICHT. M:OED (MAASTRICHT: Open Honest Democratic), the new party in Maastricht which mainly concentrates on the interests of students and entrepreneurs, has earned two seats in the city council in the local elections last Wednesday. The turnout in Maastricht was a little higher this year (48.1 per cent) than in 2014 (46.9 per cent).
A letter

A letter

Coming home after grocery shopping, I realize I haven’t opened my letterbox in a few days. I’m not expecting much, aside from some adverts, one or two bills maybe. With my groceries under my arms, I slowly open the box. But as I pull out a bunch of papers, I see I got lucky today. I’ve been sent a letter. From a friend, maybe, or ...

“Vote, and don’t shut up”

“Vote, and don’t shut up”

MAASTRICHT “The name of the party tonight is ‘SHUT UP and VOTE’, but I prefer to say: ‘Vote, and don’t shut up’.” With these words, UM president Martin Paul opened Maastricht’s first polling station, on the first floor of the Muziekgieterij, shortly before midnight.
Greener Maastricht

Greener Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. There should be more nature in Maastricht and the university could play a major role in this. Rob Jansen from Stadsnatuur Maastricht, a volunteer collective that dedicates itself to creating more green in the city, advocates this idea.
Library of Things wins Student Idea Competition

Library of Things wins Student Idea Competition

MAASTRICHT. The Library of Things has won the Student Idea Competition 2018, the annual contest organised by the Student Project Team. Five teams pitched their ideas to improve student life at Maastricht University in the Student Service Centre (SSC) last Monday. A jury selected three winners. The Library of Things – where people can borrow t...
SCRUM Club: use open source software for your research

SCRUM Club: use open source software for your research

MAASTRICHT. When it comes to Open Access, most people’s minds go directly to the availability of research articles for everybody. But there’s more to it, for instance the software that researchers use to analyse their data. The Scientific Computing and Research @ UM Club (SCRUM Club) feels that using a licensed programme like SPSS alway...
“They thought it was a subcutaneous worm"

“They thought it was a subcutaneous worm"

Thomas Fuller (41), PhD candidate in the Department of Clinical Psychological Science at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, has on his side a tattoo of a bird’s-eye view of the River Thames and several London parks. It is done entirely in white ink. “I was a social worker in London from the age of 24 to 26. I’m from Au...

Dutch company bike scheme is too complicated, says tax minister

THE NETHERLANDS. The government is to simplify the rules surrounding the use of company bikes – e-bikes in particular – in an effort to make the the corporate perk more attractive.
UPDATE: Eleven Maastricht master's programmes in the top ranks

UPDATE: Eleven Maastricht master's programmes in the top ranks

MAASTRICHT. Eleven Maastricht master's courses are among the very best in the Netherlands, is the opinion of the Keuzegids Masters 2018, which took a close look at 43 UM master's. The research master's programme of European Studies with a grade of nine is the very best. At the very bottom are Movement Sciences and Epidemiology. Tho...

Patients to get ‘more control’ over health records and who sees what

THE NETHERLANDS. From next year, people will be able to ‘manage’ their own medical records on their computer or mobile phone and decide who should have access to what information, health minister Bruno Bruins has told the Volkskrant.  
About the challenges of a young tutor

About the challenges of a young tutor

Three actors play a short scene for the audience. We see a female student who is waiting for her friend in a pub. In the meantime, a young man offers her a drink. She declines. ‘Ah, don't be like that,’ he says, and before she knows it, a beer has been put in front of her. She takes it without looking at him. She goes onto the dance...
Advocating for Procrastination

Advocating for Procrastination

An old Army buddy of mine once joked that procrastination is like masturbation, it feels good until you realize you just screwed yourself. Rather than postponing things, just get it done. Action – as he would say – is the best cure for anxiety. But then there are those that believe that if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a...

Myth: It’s easy to change the behaviour of a group

Myth: It’s easy to change the behaviour of a group

Making sure employees switch off the lights before they leave the office, convincing all youngsters to only have safe sex, and making people choose the healthiest products. Organisations and governments regularly feel that they should change the behaviour of a group. “They often approach this rather optimistically,” says Phil Brüll, app...

Greater absenteeism during blocks leads to lower grades

MAASTRICHT. First-year students who faithfully attend all tutorial group meetings, perform considerably better than those who just about meet the attendance standard. This was one of the outcomes of a survey carried out by Patrick Bijsmans and Arjan Schakel among first-year students of European Studies, which was recently published in Higher E...
“I hear there are some communists in the room”

“I hear there are some communists in the room”

“Why did Napoleon never attack Geneva? Napoleon: ‘Geneva? Why would I attack Geneva? Everybody speaks English there.’”, according to ringmaster Teun Dekker, using these words to present the introductory video that accompanies the evening’s fourth proposition: ‘The city council should offer free Dutch courses to e...

Age is often forgotten when we speak about diversity

Age is often forgotten when we speak about diversity

A student who is 48, a professor who is eighteen and someone defending his or her thesis at 70 years of age. Intuitively we know what ‘fits’ with what age. So age is much more than the actual years on a calendar, there are numerous cultural connotations attached. “It is not just what you are (four, sixteen, fifty or eighty), but a...
Alles is Drama tries its hand at musical theatre with Family Matters

Alles is Drama tries its hand at musical theatre with Family Matters

For their new production Family Matters, student theatre association Alles is Drama embarks on a new adventure: musical theatre. In addition to sketches that they wrote themselves, each player will also perform a song. The overarching theme is family – from the awkwardness of family gatherings to finding a new family far away from home. Di...

Navigation tools and works of art

Navigation tools and works of art

MAASTRICHT. Throughout the centuries, atlases have been more than just navigation tools. They can also be works of art, tell a story about how the world was depicted at that time, and hint at the opinions of the cartographer. Jonathan Stockhorst, master’s student of Art, Literature and Society, spent the last few months researching the 9...

ING withdraws 50% pay rise for CEO after ‘underestimating public response’

THE NETHERLANDS. ING’s supervisory board has withdrawn the proposed 50% pay rise for chief executive Ralph Hamers, saying it had ‘underestimated the public response in the Netherlands on this clearly sensitive matter’.
“Good parents to me, but horrible to each other”

“Good parents to me, but horrible to each other”

Greek-Italian Rita Platanos (19), a first-year student of International Business, always wanted a tattoo. She took the plunge when she moved out. On her left upper arm she has a traditional-style tattoo of an open hand encircled by a snake. “My parents divorced when I was less than a year old and have had a bad relationship for as long as ...

Cabinet to lobby Brussels to abolish ‘fake news’ watchdog

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch politicians are to call for the EU to take down its website for monitoring ‘fake news’, arguing that government agencies should not police freedom of speech.

Big student debate elections at SBE

MAASTRICHT. Ten (of the fourteen) local political parties, five propositions, five debate rounds and rector Rianne Letschert to set the ball rolling. A large city council election debate for students will take place in the Franz Palm lecture hall at the School of Business and Economics (SBE) on Monday 12 March.
One city, two worlds

One city, two worlds

Outside of the majestic walls of our faculties, there is a world that many of my UM peers are not fully aware of – a Maastricht outside Maastricht University. Some have a faint notion that it is out there. For instance, there is Zuyd, the regional university of applied sciences, and its students - a lot of them, around 13.000. Then again you ...

“Without the university we would still be a sleepy provincial town”

“Without the university we would still be a sleepy provincial town”

MAASTRICHT. Flags along the boulevard and along the Kennedy Bridge to welcome the new students during Inkom or Open Days? Just like with Tefaf. No, there won't be any flags. And the names ‘Maastricht University’ or ‘university city’ on the signs at the city borders? “I think that is a very creative idea, I'...
Martin Paul in bed with director of The Student Hotel

Martin Paul in bed with director of The Student Hotel

 “It is an honour to wear them,” says president of Maastricht University Martin Paul, pointing to his new red Bed Talk socks. He is a fan of the Red Socks, Boston's baseball team. During the opening of The Student Hotel Maastricht last Friday he jumped into bed with Frank Uffen, one of the directors of The Student Hotel. &ld...

UM researcher had to choose: ERC grant or Vidi grant

UM researcher had to choose: ERC grant or Vidi grant

MAASTRICHT. Researcher Vera Schrauwen-Hinderling received two first prizes last year: a Vidi grant from NWO and an ERC grant from Brussels. She did so with similar research proposals. ERC and NWO do not agree with this. An attempt to give the Vidi project a different angle, did not work.
‘No,’ my father answered, ‘I have a strong daughter’

‘No,’ my father answered, ‘I have a strong daughter’

Annemarie Penn-te Strake (Helmond, 1953)/ mayor of Maastricht since 1 June 2015/ married to Olaf Penn, four sons (35, 33, 32, 30) from a previous marriage/ lives in Maastricht

Maastricht students join together for charity

MAASTRICHT. This year’s Maastricht Ragweek - the annual charity week in which students collect money for a national and regional good cause - will be in aid of 113 Zelfmoordpreventie (Suicide Prevention) and the Wigwam Foundation. As of tomorrow, various activities will be organised until 14 March. Both charities will receive half of the...
 "I was surprised we were still alive"

"I was surprised we were still alive"

Johan Strijckers (48), project leader of programmes and new media at the Maastricht city council, got his first tattoo in 2001. Today, they cover a big part of his chest, back and both his arms. His right forearm, both top and bottom, is filled with the image of a broken hourglass, the Death card of the Tarot deck pierced by a dagger, a pair of win...

Dutch tax inspectors get powers to go undercover and tap phones

THE NETHERLANDS. New rules giving tax inspectors and special government departments the power to tap phone conversations and carry out undercover operations have been passed in parliament with little fuss, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.
“I’d rather have been called Chief Happiness Officer”

“I’d rather have been called Chief Happiness Officer”

She studied at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), completed her PhD there too, was a lecturer there and now, at 33, she has become Diversity Officer at Maastricht University. But Constance Sommerey would have preferred a different title. Something with happiness in it.

Troubleshooter Stef Blok returns to cabinet following Zijlstra’s fall

THE NETHERLANDS. Five months after quitting politics, Stef Blok has returned to the Dutch cabinet to replace Halbe Zijlstra as foreign affairs minister.  
Having a laugh

Having a laugh

I´ve been teaching since 1980. More than 35 years later, I completed my BKO (basic teaching qualification). That included preparing a personal SWOT analysis – identifying my strengths and weaknesses (in relation to teaching – it´s not a general exercise in personal reflection), and external opportunities and threats affectin...