Café de Kater is located on the west side of the Oude Markt in Enschede. Once you go inside, a lengthy staircase in the corner of the room takes you up to the first floor. Go up yet another flight of stairs and you'll enter the domain of Cnødde: the Gele Kater. Even though this Wednesday evening has only just begun, the room is already filled with young men, each of whom is wearing the characteristic yellow sweater. The Gele Kater is decorated with an assortment of relics and tokens, left behind by previous generations of members. From a floor mosaic in the shape of Cnødde's logo, a unicorn, to a ‘shield’ hanging on the wall that bears the name of every member - more than 250 in all.
Cnødde made this café on the Oude Markt its home in 1998. Before that time, the College's members used to gather in the Bastille. The Kater, located in the heart of Enschede, has a long-standing tradition as a student pub and Cnødde's members often found themselves on both sides of the bar. One day, the idea of forming a clubhouse of their own was born. The former owner of the pub told them that a space was available in the attic above the café, which might be right for them. The students did not have to think about that offer for long. Since that day, the College gathers every Wednesday evening above the Kater; a unique location that affords a wide view of the Oude Markt.
The College's move towards the city centre is part of a larger trend. Since the 90s, student life in Enschede has gradually been shifting from the campus to the city centre. A good example of this is the Cnødde City Tour for first-year students. In the past, the procession went from the city centre to the campus. Since the nineties, they go in the exact opposite direction. The members of Cnødde take first-year students to where the party is. That used to be the campus, but these days the city centre is the place to be.
Cnødde is anarchistically leaderless, although there is a primus inter pares - the first among his equals: a president of sorts, although they would never call him that themselves. Someone simply has to take responsibility for certain things, like the finances. Then there is the pub boss. They are responsible for the club, oversee maintenance and keep in touch with the operator of the Kater.
The pub is more than a place to hang out. It is a place where Cnødde's members can be themselves. This statement is met with consenting nods from the gentlemen. Have you ever heard of the Yellow Walls? Probably not. The Yellow Walls extend beyond the physical walls of the pub itself. When Cnødde's members say to each other, ‘what I'm about to tell you should stay within the Yellow Walls,’ the other person knows that the story is only intended for members of the College. It is an unwritten rule that new members are taught as early as possible.
There is no shortage of interested members, either. Every year, the College invites around forty men to a total of three evenings of introductory drinks. It is all about that click. After three nights, both parties must have felt it. Some years, the club welcomes six new members; other times, there are only one or two who make the cut. Every new group has to go through a number of hazing rituals. What those rituals are is a closely guarded secret - even tonight. New members should find out for themselves. In other words: what happens at Cnødde, stays at Cnødde. It is all about instilling a love for the club.
Despite the bond they all share, the students’ characters are quite diverse. They all have the same mindset, however. They do not stop until they have achieved their goal. Entrepreneurship is also part of every member’s DNA. The members of Cnødde bring out the best in themselves and engage in all kinds of activities besides their studies. On Wednesday evenings, the wildest tales are shared in the Gele Kater. No member will want to miss out on that. That is why the College has such a strong motivational effect, the members know.
This year, the club celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. The College's tenth quinquennium. They have already organised a number of activities, including a big party in the Twentsche Foodhal. The anniversary year will conclude with a gala. One year, Cnødde organised a book ball in the university library at the Vrijhof. Expectations are high, but the members are keeping mum about the location of this year's gala for the time being.
A final point of order. Cnødde is a College and not a society. On Wednesdays, they come here straight from their lecture rooms. They also have an excellent relationship with the University itself, they say. A clear example is the annual performance during the Dies Natalis, where the members sing the Gaudeamus igitur. Former rector Ed Brinksma asked the gentlemen to sing the opening song. The UT arranged a vocal coach and the gents got three singing lessons in the Gele Kater.
Unfortunately, the performance was cancelled last year because of the opening of the TechMed Centre. A bitter disappointment. The King came to visit and the Gaudeamus igitur was not sung. They hope to receive another invitation this year, however. After all, doing something three times makes it a tradition. The members of Cnødde know that all too well.