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Entries for June 2017

Big Dutch banks, brewers and housing corporations have cannabis cafe interests

THE NETHERLANDS. The four biggest Dutch banks – Rabobank, ING, ABN Amro and the Volksbank (formerly SNS) – have lent cannabis cafe owners some €1.1bn using 170 coffee shops as security, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday.

Dutch food producers agree to stop adding sugar to jars of vegetables

THE NETHERLANDS. Food producers have reached agreement with supermarkets to stop putting sugar in jars of summer vegetables from next year, following pressure from consumer groups.

Off their trolleys? Schiphol brings in ‘light luggage’ queues to speed up security

THE NETHERLANDS. Schiphol airport is to introduce ‘no trolley’ queues at its security gates this summer in a bid to bring down waiting times.
Speaking Dutch

Speaking Dutch

Me: Hi, my name is Saeed Banaama. I am a medical intern at the emergency department. Do you mind if I take your history? Patient: Yes, sure. No problem. You have to learn it too. Me, with a polite smile, in an apologetic tone: Before we start I have to admit that I only recently learned Dutch and as a result, it might come across as odd or no...

How to abolish a numerus fixus

How to abolish a numerus fixus

MAASTRICHT. The numerus fixus for the study programme of Economics and Business Economics has never been reached. So, let’s get rid of it, says the SBE Faculty Board. The students think this a bad idea. The restriction works as a mark of quality and that scares off unmotivated students. In the Faculty Council meeting, the students unanim...
UPDATE: Student protests against sharing of personal details

UPDATE: Student protests against sharing of personal details

MAASTRICHT. The UM provides personal details of students to external parties such as Flycatcher and Studiekeuze 123. Is that allowed? And if so, why are students not informed about this and asked for their permission? FHML student Patrick Pilipiec has demanded access to university documents on the basis of the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act. Th...
58 lectures, thirty music performances and a proper shooting gallery

58 lectures, thirty music performances and a proper shooting gallery

With no fewer than 58 lectures, most of which by Maastricht scientists, there is something for everyone during the PAS (Pleasure, Arts and Science) Festival that will open its doors at the beginning of September. A preview by Observant.
“Are you sure I can't help with the dishes?”

“Are you sure I can't help with the dishes?”

“Are you sure I can't help with the dishes?” rector Rianne Letschert asks as the evening is drawing to a close. No, say all in the student house on Vrijthof 27, located right next to Italian restaurant Gio’s. Just imagine, ‘their’ rector washing the dishes. “And don't forget to contact me if there is a pr...

No letter about HP from the University Council to the Executive Board after all

MAASTRICHT. Are the students in the University Council going to send a letter about HP to the Executive Board, requesting further investigation into the company, or not? It is becoming more and more unlikely.
Biking Dinner

Biking Dinner

MAASTRICHT. She takes the lead, rector Rianne Letschert, on route to the first course of a dinner held by the four student associations. Later on in the evening, she strategically drops to the back. The three members of the Executive Board, in addition to the rector there are also Vice-President Nick Bos and President Martin Paul, mounted their bic...

Judges throw out student fraud cases because of unauthorised inspectors

THE NETHERLANDS. At least 200 students who were suspected of claiming too much student funding will not have to pay back the extra money because of an administrative error.

Dutch tv team which traces missing people is kidnapped in Colombia

THE NETHERLANDS. A team from a Dutch television show which tracks down missing people has reportedly been kidnapped in Colombia.
A straight right and a left punch

A straight right and a left punch

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Box-it.

Pressure mounts on reluctant Labour to join Dutch coalition talks

THE NETHERLANDS. Labour party leader Lodewijk Asscher is coming under increasing pressure to get involved in the ongoing coalition talks but has again said that the party ‘is not available’ to join in.
Moments

Moments

A couple of months ago I happened to watch a video clip from 1976 of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. The video was about a street live performance of the song It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock n’ roll), featuring on their second studio album. A great song by the way. The performance starts with only a few people standin...

Myth: If children listen to Mozart, they become smarter

Myth: If children listen to Mozart, they become smarter

Available online at amazon.com: A Baby Einstein playpen with music by Mozart and Bach, a ‘self-discovery mobile’ to hang above the crib, with classical melodies and Baby 2 Be, a CD especially for unborn children, to listen to from the womb. The idea behind this merchandise is that children become smarter if they listen to classical musi...

University Council students: “HP's role in Israel needs to be investigated”

MAASTRICHT. Students from the University Council expect the Executive Board to carry out an investigation into the role of IT manufacturer HP in Israel and the occupied territory. The Board will receive a letter on this the matter in the next few days, says Thomas Vaessen from Novum.
“If you want students to behave like adults you should treat them like adults”

“If you want students to behave like adults you should treat them like adults”

MAASTRICHT. Is it a good idea to assess student participation in tutorials? Some believe in it, others argue passionately against it, or will see it as a necessary evil, said Mark Vluggen, associate professor at the School of Business and Economics, in his pitch. And that was exactly what happened during the well-attended third UM teach-meet organi...
UM drops to place 200 on the QS World University Ranking

UM drops to place 200 on the QS World University Ranking

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has plummeted 27 places on the QS World University Ranking, which was published today. The UM is now in place 200.

Lots of DJs during Inkom

MAASTRICHT. Lyrics by Nirvana poured like a sauce over the music of the Final Countdown. It's those types of mash-ups that new first-years can expect when Daredevils play during the Inkom opening event on the Markt. They are one of the few bands that will come to Maastricht from 21 until 25 August. Most of the music at the Inkom parties will co...

“We are regarded as miserly, but we aren’t”

“We are regarded as miserly, but we aren’t”

As an Observant journalist, you are allowed to pull up a chair in this series. But please note that the idea is not to join in the meal – something that the students always find very awkward; they feel inhospitable and insist that we at least try the dessert. And this time, it is no trial at all: first-year student Lenah Kampmeijer retrieved ...

Prime minister ‘very disappointed’ at collapse of talks with GroenLinks

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Tuesday he is ‘very disappointed’ at the failure of talks to form a new government between his party, the Christian Democrats, D66 and GroenLinks.

New attempt to involve GroenLinks in Dutch coalition government fails

THE NETHERLANDS. Talks on forming a new coalition government in the Netherlands collapsed again on Monday evening, when chief negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink said the four parties involved ­­­­­­­had decided not to pursue the alliance.
Campsite guests and competition players

Campsite guests and competition players

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: badminton.

Many freelancers don’t pay any income tax at all: Volkskrant

THE NETHERLANDS. A large proportion of the Netherlands’ growing pool of freelancers and self-employed workers don’t pay any tax on their income, because of tax breaks, the Volkskrant said at the weekend.
Not so Dutch experience

Not so Dutch experience

Do I live in the Netherlands? Descriptively speaking, I do. My address is in Maastricht; I have a BSN number and bread here is far too soft for my German taste. But leaving the geography and administration aside, do I? Sitting in Banditos, looking around, no single word in Dutch to be heard or seen. It is this famous international student bubble. M...

A ‘fishing expedition’ for sustainability at SBE

MAASTRICHT. A lot is happening in the field of sustainability – in the broad sense of the word, so including issues such as social equality – at the School of Business and Economics, but what exactly? And by whom? To discover this, a Sustainability Research Theme was set up from within the Graduate School. Co-ordinator Rob Bauer, profes...
“Could you take a look at this dead mouse?”

“Could you take a look at this dead mouse?”

Tuesday morning, 30 May, the day after the professor dined with the girls, in the Editor's office of Observant. “And? Did they have hamburgers?” The colleagues fervently hoped that the girls of Sororitas would have served hamburgers to the cultivated-hamburger professor Mark Post. “No, that would have been some joke. They se...

Tihange protest finds little response as yet at the UM

Tihange protest finds little response as yet at the UM

MAASTRICHT. On 25 June, various German, Belgian and Dutch action groups will organise a human chain around nuclear power plant Tihange 2, in an attempt to have it closed. This plant is approximately 50 kilometres from Maastricht and has shown defects for years, including cracks in the reactor vessels. The plant was shut down for a long time, but ac...

“I am for Europe so that is what I wrote. You wouldn't believe the number of hate mails I received”

“I am for Europe so that is what I wrote. You wouldn't believe the number of hate mails I received”

Brexit was inevitable; the British had been in “sabotage mode” for years, says Caroline de Gruyter, Europe correspondent for NRC Handelsblad in Vienna. Their constant hacking away at Europe was disruptive and fuelled Euroscepticism in other countries. The tide now seems to be turning. De Gruyter is the keynote speaker next Saturday duri...

Green light for academic staff policy after ‘elephant pregnancy’

MAASTRICHT. Applause for the tenure track policy and broad consent for the professor scheme. Last week, the University Council showed that it was satisfied with the adaptations implemented by the rector after criticism from the council.
More intensive UM supervision during hazing

More intensive UM supervision during hazing

MAASTRICHT. “I haven't received any signals that things happen during hazing here in Maastricht that shouldn't be allowed,” says rector Rianne Letschert. But she admits that things aren't all that clear. Also, the SSC director will carry out unannounced visits.

Wanted: English column writers

Do you enjoy the columns of Asena Baykal, Irena Boskovic or Alison Edwards on page 6 of Observant? Would you like to write yourself, perhaps even better? This is your chance. Observant is looking for students and staff to write 4-5 English columns per year about any topic that’s on their mind. Interested? Send a column (topic free of choic...

There is no energy left after an hour

There is no energy left after an hour

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Strength & Conditioning.

Dutch coalition talks to resume, negotiator meets potential fourth partners

THE NETHERLANDS. Formal talks on forming a new Dutch coalition government will resume on Tuesday after the holiday weekend, and chief negotiator Herman Tjeenk Willink is expected to kick off by meeting the leaders of GroenLinks and ChristenUnie, RTL news reported.
Exam week: high hopes, despite Schopenhauer

Exam week: high hopes, despite Schopenhauer

‘Life is a constant process of dying’. My classes on Schopenhauer at my exchange university in Spain might not sound like a recipe for a happy morning, but last year I was thoroughly enjoying them. Schopenhauer’s work tells us that we are unfree, because our desires rule our behavior. These desires will never really be satisfied, ...

Education Prize FPN

MAASTRICHT. This year’s education prize at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience went to Course Coordinator Nick Broers. He is being honoured for his outstanding commitment to statistics at the faculty. It was the third time he won. Furthermore, Joke Humblet was crowned Best Student Tutor. "Nick Broers is an enthusiastic, fair co...