Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
No, Angeniet Helwig didn’t spend hours cleaning her room; she did remove some beer mats with messages of kissing, cuddling and boozing from the wall. Excuse me? Yes, that is a tradition at Lagakari – we’ll come back to the cuddling later.
Helwig lives on the Grote Gracht, in a building that houses more than forty students. Perfectly central but also noisy. Circumflex is just around the corner. The members don’t make a sound in the Capucijnenstraat but they often pump up the volume on the Grote Gracht. Helwig has a room (22 m2) with a minikitchen.
The table has been set flawlessly when Silvia Evers arrives on the fourth floor with a bottle of wine and introduces herself. Madelon Mars has been in her class, but that was some time ago. The subject was Health Economics, not easy.
What’s on the menu? Mushroom lasagne and tiramisu for afters. So, vegetarian. To meet Evers’ wishes, but also because she herself doesn’t eat meat everyday either. When everyone is seated, Mars pours a Sauvignon Blanc and Helwig divides up the lasagne with a meat knife and a cheese slicer. The dish, from a recipe in a cookery book, is enjoyed by all.
Did you every join an association yourself, Crissy Rudolphi asks. "Yes, Circumflex," says Evers. Slight astonishment on the faces. "I became a member in 1984. Circumflex was on the Brusselsestraat in those days and had a considerable number of members from the school of higher education, including the Art Academy; they also had very few traditions. When they introduced hazing, I left."
And what path did your career take, the students want to know. Evers tells about her study of Health Sciences and Law, about her love of economics, mental health care and adolescent problems, and about her wanderings through AZM, RIVM, CBS and the convalescent clinic in Hoensbroek.
"Quite a journey," says Mars. "I mean, an exciting but also long journey."
Evers had promised herself to do something different every seven years in order to prevent herself from getting in a rut. I managed to do so for quite some time, but along the way I discovered that a job need not necessarily become boring after a while. "Your position changes, certainly if you are less involved in carrying out the tasks, but start being more of a manager."
Her children, teenagers, say that they definitely don’t want to work as academics. Kusters, a UCM student: "My parents work in health care. All the discussions are on that topic... I will also most certainly do something different."
Evers: "Well, to what extent is your life planable?"
Mars takes the last piece of lasagne and shares the rest of the white wine. Evers declines.
The students praise the central location of Helwigs room. She could practically crawl home after an evening on the town. Of all the associations, only Circumflex is in the city centre, even though Koko, according to Evers is the oldest (which is incorrect, Circumflex is older). Koko is not a favourite with the Lagakari ladies, but they do organise one of the best parties: the Dow Jones Party. At this 'stock exchange drinks party' the price of drinks fluctuates depending on demand. Kusters: "You see students waiting at the bar until the price of the drink they want drops. You can follow the exchange rate on computer screens. It is one hell of a night because you end up drinking all kinds of different drinks."
How many members does Lagakari actually have, Evers asks. The answer is 65. "Some have never sailed, " says Mars. "Or just once. They come for the fun." It is not always easy finding board members. It was really stressful last year, says Kusters. "If you don’t find anybody then the board can’t step down."
Another "minor matter" is the extremely disproportionate ratio of men and women in the association. Two thirds of the members are female. "Typical of Maastricht," says Rudolphi, the next chairperson (from October). "Certainly in Randwijck, you see many more women than men.
"Maybe we should recruit at the Faculty of Economics," Evers suggests, where she believes there are more men.
Helwig: "The men at Lagakari form a tight group. I wonder just how comfortable new men would feel among them."
Does Lagakari have many couples, Evers asks. Indeed, that appears to be the case. There is even a Lagakari baby (by two former members), although Kusters has never seen the baby. "Chances of couples forming is greatest at the beginning, when you don’t know each other that well. After a while, you know so much about each other that you become disinterested. Lagakari is also a gossip association."
Rudolphi: "Everyone knows each other, including all the stories."
Then it’s time to reveal the details and the Reefknuffel is brought to the table. This is an internal booklet that is published about four times a year. And the highlight is the 'voosboom' (tell-all tree). Picture this: the outline of a tree, the leaves bearing the names of members who have done it together. Evers analyses the network closely and arrives at the conclusion that Daan has obviously done it with Ellen. Also that Bart has been networking with several women.
Every week Observant invites a professor to have dinner with students in a student house
Crissy Rudolphi * 20 * 3rd-year student of Biomedical Sciences * Lagakari chairperson
Juul Kusters * 19 * 3rd-year UCM student * departing chairperson
Angeniet Helwig * 20 * 3rd-year student of Medicine * internal official
Madelon Mars * 23 * a recent graduate of the master’s of Health Care Policy * innovation & management * treasurer
Silvia Evers * 51 * professor of Public Health Technology Assessment * married, two children * lives in Gulpen
Scores (up to 5 stars) given by the guest, professor Evers:
*Hospitality: 5 stars
*Quality of food: 5 stars
*Cleanliness: 4 stars