Julia Hubbert, chair of the Kick-In committee, is happy with this news, especially because not so long ago she was less optimistic about a physical Kick-In. What is certain is that first-year students who attend non-informative activities, often in the evening such as a pool party or the final party, will need a test certificate. This does not apply to students who have already been vaccinated.
The organisation maintains a maximum capacity of one person per 5m2. The surface area of the field or space therefore determines the number of people. For informative activities - where no test for access is needed - the committee works with time slots, in order to keep an overview of the maximum capacity. 'That is the biggest challenge for us. By dividing students into small groups, we guarantee safety. Infections during the Kick-In is the last thing we want, so safety has always been the starting point', Hubbert explains.
Since the last press conference, the committee (finally) knows where it stands. In contrast to last year, it is more successful in making agreements with the associations involved. 'Now that working from home is no longer the norm, it is easier to communicate anyway. We try to be more transparent than last year. That was difficult at the time, because every press conference changed everything.'
During the University Council meeting of 23 June, the subject of sexual consent among students was discussed. A week earlier, two UT students had already drawn attention to sexual violence among students. Mirjam Bult announced during the council meeting that the subject will be on the agenda of the Kick-In. Hubbert cannot tell yet in what form this will take. 'But on 24 August, one day before the Kick-In, it is Inclusion Day. Then, together with the Student Union, we will give information on the subject, also for international students.'
According to Hubbert, the Kick-In Committee wants to be 'as inclusive as possible'. 'That is why we are in close contact with Sterre Mkatini (Diversity & Inclusion Officer, ed.). We use a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination and focus specifically on the LGBTQ+ community. We don't want to exclude anyone, which is why we also have alternative activities for students who, for whatever reason, don't drink alcohol. And since all associations are present, we show how inclusive we are as a UT community.'
The UT encourages the committee to organise as many physical activities as possible. Studies show that that is where students prefer to be. Some activities can only be followed from a screen. A conscious choice, says Hubbert. 'The Winter Kick-In was completely online and we are taking the successful experiences from that with us. We do that for students who cannot attend for whatever reason - infection, quarantine, travel restrictions. But the focus is on the main activities and those are physical.'
In whatever form and with however many students an activity takes place, the theme 'Expand your Horizon' will be found in everything if it is up to Hubbert. 'We want to show everything the UT has to offer. That is what we think the theme radiates. First-year students should be able to make an assessment of what makes their student life perfect. What we offer should result in the first building blocks of a social network. You could see during the pandemic how important that is. First-years can benefit from a successful Kick-In their entire study time and we want to be important in that.'
The president hopes that some of the current first-year students will be able to retake the course at the end of August, but she cannot make any promises about that yet. 'We are still in discussion. If the possibility is there, we hope that the current first-years can participate in activities, but the upcoming first-years have our priority. All the arrangement work around numbers of people, one and a half meters and testing takes a lot of time, so it's still a matter of waiting.'
There were times when the committee was at a loss for words this spring, but according to Hubbert, the board always remained motivated. 'At the beginning of the academic year, we had expected an easier task. You always hope for better, that we could let go of the one and a half metres for example. The most important lesson for us is that you must always have a back-up. The delta variant worries us slightly, but we do what we can and expect that we can always adapt. We are just as motivated as we were at the beginning and expect to do a great job. In May, we went away for a weekend with the board. Now we are going to bang on about eight weeks full time. Personally, I am looking forward to the storming of the Bastille, a tradition that returns after a year of absence.'
The complete programme of the Kick-In can be found here.