“At other associations, you don’t make friends if you don’t booze”

“At other associations, you don’t make friends if you don’t booze”

New student association Fugax opposes drinking culture

25-09-2023 · Background

No weekly drinks or excessive partying, but a book club and board game evenings. For a year now, the ‘non-traditional’ student association Fugax has been focusing on students who want to socialise without boozing. “We have noticed that there is a lot of demand for this.”


Jenga, Werewolves, Uno: the games table is well stocked on the top floor of tapas bar Que Pasa on the Tongersestraat this Wednesday evening. Some thirty students are sitting at two long tables, divided into groups – each with a different game. The waiter regularly comes up the steep stairs with a full tray. Mainly soft drinks, but sometimes also a beer or a glass of Sangria.

But to leave the building drunk? No, nobody will be doing that this evening, says student of Medicine Lars van den Eijnde, fellow founder and board member of Fugax. It has never happened during the board game evenings that they have held here every two weeks for nearly a year now. “The owner was even slightly afraid in the beginning, thinking he might not make much money from us,” Van den Eijnde laughs. “But fortunately, it turned out to be not so bad. Partly because we regularly order tapas, the patatas bravas is a favourite.”

Like-minded

You can also have a fun evening without alcohol, is Fugax’s motto. An idea that doesn’t seem to have sunk in with the larger more traditional associations, says Van den Eijnde, who himself was once a member of Tragos for half a year. “Nice people, but I didn’t feel quite at home there. Drinking a lot is not my thing. But if you don’t booze with them during drinks evenings, you don’t really make friends.”

There must be more students who feel like this, he thought a year ago. So did Anne Eggen, student of Biomedical Sciences who could not settle in with another student association, for the same reason. “Anne had the idea to set up a WhatsApp group for like-minded students, with whom we could do fun things together. Things moved fast from that moment. People passed it on to friends and fellow students. Within a couple of weeks, there were about 120 members in the group. Apparently, there was quite a demand. So much so that more structure was needed. So, an association.”

Shy

A month after the original idea, they already had a board; for almost a year now, there have been weekly activities on the agenda – from book clubs to watching films or the role play game Dungeons & Dragons. “We also organise a biweekly ‘circle’, in which members can talk in a safe environment about subjects such as sexuality, parents and gender,” says Van den Eijnde. “The language spoken at all activities is English. Not that we focus exclusively on internationals – there are also a lot of Dutch members – but because we want to be inclusive.”

They chose the name Fugax. “That is Latin for timid. As most of our members are slightly quieter or shyer than average.” Laughing: “It was only later that we discovered that it is also a name for all kinds of diseases. But anyway, we kept it as it was.”

Barrier

After the start-up year, the association now wants to become ‘mature’. Since the summer, there are now activities committees and new members – if they want – will receive an inauguration. A search is also on for an own accommodation. “It is nice to have one’s own space, a permanent place. At the moment, we regularly have to hold our activities outside. And sometimes even in my own apartment,” says Van den Eijnde.

Another new development is the contribution for members, about 50 euro per year. “Last year, the board paid for practically everything from their own pockets, or we used our own stuff. But that has now become too expensive. A website, a bank account, board games: they all costs money. On top of that, we may also have to pay rent soon.” Although an annual contribution may be a barrier, Van den Eijnde has noticed. “Certainly for people who only come to an activity every now and again. Towards the end of last year, we had a group of about 150 people, at the moment we have only forty who have actually become members. But the deadline for signing up is not until mid-October. With the thought of paying, many students may put it off for a bit. This evening, not all of those present are members yet, some are actually here for the first time.”

In the background, there is a peal of laughter. A group is playing a round of Cards against humanity, in which the rudest or funniest statement wins. In this case, a sentence with the combination Donald Trump and teen pregnancies. “Even though we are slightly more timid, that doesn’t mean that this is a sensitive club with people who can’t handle anything”, Van den Eijnde laughs.

Photo: Joey Roberts

Tags: fugax,association,drinking culture,students,instagram

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