MAASTRICHT. Now that the COVID-19 measures have been somewhat relaxed, larger physical gatherings can take place during the INKOM, from 17 until 21 August. This means that each participant will be given the opportunity to attend the evening meetings at least once and freshmen can also become personally acquainted with their group during registration. However, the digital programme will remain key.
Until 1 July, no permits for events could be applied for. So, initially, no physical meetings were planned. Now that people are allowed to meet up in larger groups again – provided they maintain the 1.5 metre distance – the programme will include two communal meals and an evening event. “They will be held at the larger Maastricht party locations, such as the Muziekgieterij and the Complex,” says chairperson Milou Berdenis van Berlekom. “This enables the freshmen to get to know those places. Every participant will be given the opportunity to go there once. There will be DJs and we will provide seats so that everyone can keep proper distance.” The optional activities, organised by the student organisations and UM Sports, are physical meetings too. Things like a workout or a pub quiz.
Registrations have always been in shifts, but this year they have been divided over two locations, with the aim of spreading the students out more. “This way, the students can get to know their group and their mentor. After that, they will go to an information market about Maastricht,” says Berdenis van Berlekom.
The well-known large events, such as the opening (normally speaking on the Markt) and the cantus are online this year. The WGI has had a special online platform constructed that works like a kind of social media page. “You can become friends with other participants, chat with each other, or create groups based on shared interests,” says Berdenis van Berlekom.
The entire programme is also on the platform. This is where students can find the links to the live stream of the opening ceremony or the workshop for which they have registered. Or they can watch INKOM TV. Berdenis van Berlekom: “That is a kind of news programme. We will report on activities, but we also give a glimpse of student life in Maastricht, for example by visiting student houses.”
The entire programme had to be approved in advance by the city authorities, the Executive Board and the Security Region. “We had to be very precise in our fine-tuning,” says Birgitte Hendrickx, deputy director of Student Services Centre and so also the contact person of the WGI during consultations with the Security Region. “We absolutely do not want the INKOM to become a hotbed for a new virus outbreak. So everything has to be very safe.”
Hendrickx is curious to know whether this alternative INKOM will attract a different audience. “There are, of course, students who don’t necessarily want to party. We were already working on a transition towards a more varied programme, but this has now been accelerated.” That fact that the programme is digital may be an advantage for students who have to come from far. “They may not want to or may not be able to travel from the United States or Australia, for example. This way they can still participate. It could be something we include in the coming years.”
Registrations are going well, at any rate, the counter standing at 1,200 participants on Friday 3 July.