By Vivianne Hericks
— In the wake of this academic year’s Introduction Weekend, a number of first-year students voiced their concerns on issues such as the location, a change of price, as well as limited food options. And while the new AUCSA board did encounter a number of obstacles, The Herring found out that many of the changes were made with students’ best interests in mind.
The new location for Introduction Weekend this year was a youth hostel camp in Paasheuvel, about an hour’s drive to the east of Amsterdam. Two large houses with a party room were rented out at the location, which was surrounded by woods and a big field for outdoor activities. Catering was included, and the houses provided enough room for everyone to have a bed, unlike last year when more than 60 students had no beds to sleep in.
Due to certain incidents at last year’s Introduction Weekend, the old location, which had been used regularly prior to that, was not an option anymore. Therefore, the AUCSA board had to choose a new one, which resulted in a change of price from 50 to 75 euros per person. As a result, students were not aware of the reasons behind the changes, which prompted skepticism towards the board.
Lasse Rogie, a second year student and current AUCSA Secretary, who is serving along with Committee Affairs Officer Petra Karlsen Stangvik, mentioned that the previous board chose the location for this year, as otherwise there would have been an issue with the timing. This was confirmed by Floris Cobben, an AUC alumnus and former President of the AUCSA, who explained that the previous board “books next year’s Introduction Weekend location, while the new [one] decides on the price of the weekend because it falls under their budget year.“ He also mentioned that the former location was particularly cheap, which explained the lower price of last year’s package.
Pascal van Luit, a second year student who participated as a Papa during Introduction Weekend, admitted that the current board could have done much more to avoid the criticism they were now receiving. “Why was the weekend fun damped [sic] by the recurring question of what were the 75 euros for?,” he asked. “In the future some organisational aspects could be more transparent to avoid having people think too much about whether they are getting their money’s worth,” van Luit added.
While the new housing option provided beds for everyone, there were still issues that students encountered. According to Rogie, not all participants could fit into one house, so a second one was rented. While it was only a couple of meters away from the first, the second house was shared with a group of Dutch children, which did not sit well with the students that were there. Nelly Clausen, a first year student who was also at Introduction Weekend, said she really enjoyed it, “but the situation with ‘the random Dutch kids’ staying there was a bit confusing.“
Aside from housing issues, the AUCSA board faced problems when it came to food. Many students felt the 75 euro cost was too high as quite a few people were told to bring their own food. Prior to the event, students were informed that there would be a vegetarian option, but not a vegan option, and according to Sarah Hülsen, a first year student, vegans were told to bring their own food. “Considering the fact that the people who do not eat animal products were asked to bring their own food, or could only eat bread all weekend, the price was too high, and should have been reduced for the people concerned,” Hülsen thought. .
By the time buses arrived at the camp on the first day, most students were hungry and looking forward to dinner being served. The excitement was slightly dampened when it became clear that the meal was going to consist of soup with meatballs and bread, and potato salad for vegetarians.
When the current board heard about the dinner options for the first night, they made a plan to cook themselves, yet were not allowed to use any of the four available kitchens save for the microwaves, which made cooking for around 250 students challenging. Furthermore, some students reported a faint taste of ham in their potato salad, and it was later confirmed that the supposedly vegetarian salads did indeed contain meat. For that evening and the following day, vegetarians and vegans had to stick to dry bread. As complications grew, the AUCSA board proceeded with the scheduled dinner, serving macaroni with tomato sauce, and having a vegan option as well.
Aside from the issues reported, the current board feels they did a very good job considering they were the first ones to use the new location, and therefore, had little insight into how everything worked, which made planning much more difficult. “It took way more effort for Petra and I [to organize Introduction Weekend] than we ever imagined,“ Rogie concluded.