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“We don’t go looking for trouble, trouble finds us”

“We don’t go looking for trouble, trouble finds us”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts

Professor Corine de Ruiter shares a meal with Tragos fraternity Nondejuke

Could the journalist use the loo before leaving? Of course, says a jovial Christiaan ten Broek, who first checks to see whether the toilet is safe and clean (he vacuumed the living room today, but didn’t make it to the bathroom). It’s clean enough, declares Professor Corine de Ruiter. As for safe – the walls are plastered with photos. Sniggering, the students from the Maastricht fraternity Nondejuke gesture at a snapshot above the cistern in which a pair of testicles are flopping out of someone’s boxer shorts. But it was a different photo that caught the journalist’s eye. “That action shot with the naked lady bent over and the naked student behind her – is it real? Is that … ?” Laughter. “My mum had the same question”, says Robert Stassen. “No, it’s fake; the woman is a stripper.”

“May I take your coat?” asks Ten Broek when Corine de Ruiter arrives at six p.m., bearing a gift for the students. What a nice house, the professor says, and immediately requests a full tour of the Statensingel 192a. “Eighty square metres for two people”, Stassen says proudly as leads his guest via the shower room (“this was originally our courtyard”) to his bedroom, which clearly also missed out on the clean-up earlier. “Rich dad?” asks De Ruiter. “No, clever fraternity”, Stassen replies. “They cut a good deal with the landlord twenty years ago. We fix things ourselves and do the occasional painting, and the rent has stayed at 300 euros per person for years.”

The gift turns out to be a bottle of red wine. Thank you, the students repeat four or five times over the course of the evening. The bottle serves as an indirect answer to the question Stassen asked Observant weeks earlier: “Can we have a glass of wine, or is that not the idea?”

“Which of you plays the piano?” De Ruiter asks as they enter the living room. “Chris and I, we’re both in the Tragos band”, Stassen replies. The piano used to belong to the café Ma van Sloun, where they both worked. The Tragos band covers numbers by singers such as Marco Borsato. De Ruiter bursts out laughing. “Really?” The master of the cheesy Dutch ballad is clearly not to her taste. “What kind of music do you like?” asks Sietse Feddema. Until recently he was the newbie of Nondejuke, which the students claim is the second oldest student association in Maastricht; this year there are six prospective members in the wings. “I’m into eighties and nineties stuff, Michael Jackson and things like that. But I also love classical music. Yesterday I went to the Dutch Harp Festival at the Tivoli Vredenburg.”

Once the white wine and tapas are served, the questions fly over the table by the bay window. The professor wants to know everything about their studies, fraternity and student association; the students want to know all about her field of forensic psychology, her house and her son, who at the age of 22 is vice president of a chapter of a fraternity in San Diego, California (Feddema, full of admiration: “That’s young!”).

“So why does Maastricht have no studentencorps?” De Ruiter asks, referring to the notoriously snobbish student association in other Dutch cities. “Or is that you guys?” She has just finished telling the students about her days as a member of the Utrecht Women’s Student Association (UVSV). She’s hit on the million-dollar question. Stassen: “The story goes that when Maastricht student associations register with the Algemene Senaten Vergadering [the overarching committee of the nine recognised studentencorpora, led by Minerva in Leiden –Ed.], they get sent a pack of nappies. Too young.”

The table is now set, right down to the neat serviettes. As Ten Broek serves the plates with home-smoked (!) salmon in a white wine sauce, fennel and potatoes, the topic of Nondejuke’s reputation is raised. They chuckle. It’s true, the three agree with some pride, six years ago an evening of “scrapping” was not out of the ordinary. “Say a non-member entered the room where we were drinking in the Tragos building”, Stassen explains. “We’d grab the firehose, strip the guy and send him back out to the pub soaking wet and in his underpants. Now we just say ‘Get outta here.’” Why the newfound civility? Ten Broek laughs: “The quality of the first-years has gone down. They don’t make ’em like they used to.” Stassen, with a wide grin: “We’ve become so obedient, wouldn’t dare pluck the wings off a fly anymore.” But make no mistake: “If one of us is being harassed, we’ve got his back.” And: “We don’t go looking for trouble, trouble finds us.”

“Are there people that you as a forensic psychologist don’t want to have contact with, or things you don’t want to do?” Feddema asks as dessert approaches. Good question, says De Ruiter. “Lots of things affect me, but I can take it. Though it was difficult when my son was six or seven and I was doing research on child abuse. I couldn’t get through more than two files a day. You really have to talk about it with colleagues, otherwise you get in a panic about your own children. I’m also in no hurry to go out on the street alone at three a.m. I’ve read too many statements by suspects. Some women unwittingly put themselves in a vulnerable position. For example, it’s not smart to get so drunk that you make yourself an easy target. It’s not that they’re asking for it, absolutely not, but they do increase the risk. We need to make people more alert to that, I think.”

Limietje, Einzeljänkert and K’likkert. All Nondejuke men have a nickname, based on their behaviour during the introduction period. Ten Broek is called Limietje (Pansy) because he didn’t dare square off against the super heavyweight kickboxer Badr Hari. Stassen was christened K’likkert (Squealing Suck-Up) because he didn’t get along with two other prospective members and called them “a pair of morons” in front of the association board. “Arse-licking”, say the older students. And then there’s Feddema: as the only new member in 2015, he had to undergo the hazing all alone. The ensuing whinging earnt him the name Einzeljänkert (Crybaby). “You bear the names with a mixture of shame and pride.”

Corine de Ruiter, 56, professor of Forensic Psychology, one son (22), lives with her partner in Utrecht and Maastricht

Robert Stassen, 23, fourth-year medical student and president of the Nondejuke fraternity within Tragos, a student association

Sietse Feddema, 22, first-year student of European Law School and member of Nondejuke

Christiaan ten Broek, 23, fourth-year student at the Hotel Management School and secretary of Nondejuke

Scores (maximum of five stars), given by Professor de Ruiter

Food: 5 stars. “Three-course meal, very tasty”

Hospitality: 5 stars. “Great ambiance with candles, music and beautiful bay window”

Cleanliness: 4 stars. “I looked around a bit, it was pretty decent for a student house”

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