‘It felt like we had to start twice’

| Natasja Schaafsma

Many UT students do it, want to do it or have done it in the past. Of course, we're talking about a board year. But what if your board year coincides with a global pandemic? In this series, U-Today asks study associations how they deal with the ‘new normal’. This episode: ConcepT.

‘B-20’, the 32nd board of ConcepT, the study association for students of Civil Engineering, changed places with ‘B-19’ in January this year. Back then, it was not yet known that they would also encounter the ‘C-19’, better known as Covid-19. The board started off with a hectic year, but after three weeks they could wave goodbye to all the fun activities as corona knocked on their doorstep. Tim Achterkamp, officer of internal affairs, talks about how the study association is handling the corona situation.

How did you experience the beginning of your board year?

‘The first phase was all about canceling, the second phase was about thinking out of the box. For instance, we were planning on having a Europe-hitchhiking trip. Of course, this had to be canceled. And because committees did not see each other for a meeting during the ‘smart lockdown’, there was not much initiative from them. Therefore, we decided to think of a couple of fun things. For instance, we sent out a ‘concrete package’ to members, so they could build their own doorstops. And we organized beer packages to be sent out to members. We also continued our Thursday afternoon drinks on Discord. Still, online you only continue having contact with a small and select group of people. Only in the last week before the summer holiday we were able to see each other again at the organized drink in de Vluchte with 50 members.’

Are members allowed to visit ConcepT again since the University opened up? 

‘We've become a kind of takeaway bar. It is not allowed to hang around in the members room, according to the social distancing rules. There is a walking route set out with tape. Members walk in through one door and walk out through the other with a cup of coffee in their hands. The contact is from a distance, but it works. It’s a pity that our members can no longer sit on the couch. But they won't see us do that either. This is not because we want to bully the members, but according to the social distancing rules we as board members also have to keep our distance from each other. That's why one of us works at the couch. While working, you hear someone shouting ‘walking route!’ once in a while. I guess that’s very 2020.’ 

What are the hardest things to get going again?

‘It’s a strange year for us. It feels like we started our board year twice: once in January as a normal board, and once after summer with the corona measurements. We had to start everything up all over again. Luckily, there is fresh energy and enthusiasm to arrange everything. Members can study in the hall and are happy to visit us. However, something else is bothering us: it is hard to reach the first years and master students. Master students mainly have online classes, so they do not come by the association easily. For first year students it is different, they are not used to coming by their study association. We will have our committee market outside behind the Horst, and with that activity we hope to see the first years visiting our stand. For now it is possible to go outside, in the coming months we will have to organize activities with bad weather. This will be yet another challenge.’