Hobby Horses

| Niels ter Meer

Sometimes just scrolling through the news while you’re procrastinating just writes the column for you. Student columnist Niels ter Meer noticed a lot of people riding their hobby horses, without thinking what all their hobby horses might do to people.


In my moments of procrastination, which were many the last couple of weeks, I have the habit to just scroll through news on the internet. I noticed two distinct threads of reporting, which are connected in a way people don’t seem to have noticed: a lot of people riding their hobby horses, without them thinking what all of those hobby horses do to people.

On the latter — I’ll go sit on one of my hobby horses — I see a stack of articles once again underscoring the mental health crisis we’re currently living through. I read a story about the perspective some lecturers have on student’s mental health, with them having to act as therapist sometimes. Another story, this time about a friend group, who lost not one but two friends within a decade (which brings to mind similar reporting about it here); backlit by the release of the suicide statistics on the same day. I checked: for people my age, lines go up.

And then, on all those hobby horses, I see that we’re asked to do more and more. For example, the education inspection got it into their head to fail high school students if they don’t achieve a sufficient grade for their Dutch final/central exam — yet another thing they might have to worry about next to all the other things. One step up from high school, the minister wants to drastically reduce the BSA requirements, but of course the universities don’t want to. Also, while you’re worrying about your BSA and your grades in general, would you mind to spare a second for other people’s hobby horses: the participation bodies, diversity and inclusion, and your writing skills — pretty please? Don’t forget about your (mental) health though!

I’m not going to say any of these hobby horses are not important — on the contrary. We should care about participation bodies, diversity and inclusion, people’s writing skills, study performance and preferably also people’s mental health. But this brings to mind another article, about the government asking too much of her citizens. Just as it applies to the government, it applies to universities: any measure considered in a vacuum might seem reasonable, but applied indiscriminately together it becomes just too much — me handing you one kitten is nice, but if I hand you a literal ton (a hobby horse’s worth?) you’ll succumb to the pressure.

I hope we can agree that we’d prefer people not to. But if everyone is going to insist that their hobby horse should stay or go onto the pile that’s what will happen. So some people really need to get of their hobby horse.

Stay tuned

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