Student society’s scene

A Dutch soap about a student society. When you get to the part ‘jargon’ in this blog, you will understand the title of the soap.

Have you ever noticed the group of dressed up female students crawling around at the Drift (the street in the city center where the University Library is) in the evening? Cocktail dresses, animal costumes and fancy fitness outfits. I’ve seen basically every party theme pass by. But who are these ladies? Well, they are members of the student society UVSV. Which stands for the Utrecht Female Student Society. And they are mostly seen at the Drift since that’s where their Club House is located. Wait. Stop. Rewind please.

Let me start with explaining what the student societies in Utrecht are. You can compare them with the American sororities. These so called student societies organize various activities: readings, sports activities, music activities but besides all that many parties. Becoming a member of one of these societies means joining these activities and expand your social network. But what kind of student societies are there in Utrecht? How do you pick one? How do you become a member? Just like the international students can join the ESN Introduction time, Dutch students can join the Utrecht Introduction Time (UIT) before the start of every academic year. During this week students join all kind of activities together with their mentor group. During this time all the student societies present themselves to gain new members. Since the new incoming students are new in U-town, they are in need of new friends. Joining a student society can be a good way to create a new social network within the city. Or even be at help for finding a room, since some societies own different houses in the city with rooms for their members. Most of the time this concerns spacious houses with a great location in the city center. Other student societies are focused on a certain sport. Besides that, in some professional sectors during your following career a former membership at certain student societies is highly valued. This is mostly the case with the ‘highly places’ societies.

Highly places societies? Let me elaborate. There are seven student societies in Utrecht which are considered the most important ones and the biggest. Besides those there are many more which are just a bit smaller. I’m not going to bore you with all the names. Especially since most names are abbreviations. But I will tell you something about the biggest three. Firstly, USC, which stands for –loosely translated- Utrecht Student Corporation. This is the oldest student society in Utrecht and is only accessible for male students. When this society was funded in 1816, studying at the Utrecht University automatic meant being member of USC. But when women also were allowed to study, this changed and other societies were founded. Most of the societies have their own building, sort of like a Club House. USC is located at Janskerkhof. You probably know the building from ESN’s Introduction and Final Parties: the Woolloomooloo. Then there is UVSV, which is –like I mentioned before- at the Drift. This society is only accessible for female students. And then there is C.S. Veritas, C.S. stands for Collegium Studiosorum. This is a mixed society with both male and female members. ESN Utrecht will pay a visit to Veritas upcoming Thursday. For more information check out the Facebook event.

2015-03-28 Student Society - Sororities (1)
C.S. Veritas (source)

So, now you know a bit about which different societies there exist. But how do students become a member? And maybe even more importantly, what happens within these societies? The name ‘societies’ already gives it away: they are little cultures. With their own rules, jargon and clothing style. How do you become part of this? At the start of the academic year you can apply to become a member. If you make it through the selection, for most societies you also have to pass a hazing. This is an introduction time during which the new members have to complete various –often humiliating- tasks. This is done to show not everyone can become a member and to let the newbies bond. Newbies are not supposed to talk about what exactly happens during this time. Every once in a while some extreme story pops up in the news about hazing ending wrongly. But to be clear, there are also some societies without a mandatory hazing period. After this you are a member! In some societies you have to prove yourself big time during your first year as a member. Within a society there are different groups, so called ‘committees’ and ‘year clubs’. Committees are for example responsible for organizing parties (Party Committee), creating a yearbook for the society (Yearbook Committee) and so on. The people who are in a year club together have a strong bond, became member in the same year and have for example a weekly dinner together. Since I’ve never been a member I can’t tell you what exactly happens inside these little cultures. But I can enlighten you with some rules and expressions.

Rules

Never order only one drink.

Never stand with your back to the bar.

Don’t wear a watch during dinner.

Don’t make phone calls while you’re in the Club House.

Jargon

Feut (plural: feuten) – Candidate-member of a student society, newbie.

Nul (in English: zero) – Someone who isn’t a member of a student society.

Panda punten (in English: panda points) – Points to mark the length of time someone didn’t have sex.

Sjaars – Freshman student

Toko – Fancy word for any kind of building.

While non-members don’t really have an insight in the societies, you can for sure recognize the members ‘in the wild’ in the streets of Utrecht. For example, most of the USC guys have their neck-long-hair slicked back with plenty of gel and wear buttoned shirts or well basically everything with a collar. The UVSV girls can be recognized by their –nine out of ten times- blond hear in a messy bun or loosely bounded together by a little clip and sneakers. But if you do want to have a sneak peak in the student society’s scene, join ESN’s society night!

By Femke

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