Watskeburt on campus under Erik de Jong?

Community manager looks back: “Everything’s possible here at TU/e”

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Watskeburt on campus under Erik de Jong?

Unforgettable: TU/e once saw Christmas trees being flung across the pond, a music stage being mounted onto the Dommel river, a red tricycle being purchased for the campus and a well-stocked TU/e Fan Store being opened. The physical, psychological, and digital traces Erik de Jong left behind will be noticeable long after TU/e’s community manager says farewell to the university in March.

It’s hard to think of a better musical accompaniment to our conversation. ‘Watskeburt?!’ is coming from the speakers at Hubble Community Café precisely as Erik de Jong and I meet there. When the song came out twenty years ago, he had just started out as a Built Environment student and he immediately fell in love with the hip-hop track. Now – in the week of his farewell interview – national daily De Volkskrant has named ‘Watskeburt?!’ the best Dutch-language song of all time. Yes, a lot has keburt (happened) on campus thanks to Erik de Jong.


Erik got to know TU/e intimately as he became active in many domains right after Orientation Week in 2004. As a percussionist he became a member of ESMG Quadrivium and then went on to chair the association. He got involved in Studium Generale’s program as a student assistant and he was also appointed as treasurer of umbrella culture association Scala.

It didn’t take long for the really big projects to follow suit. He was involved in the founding of Stehven (which was called Eindhoven Studentenstad at the time), a foundation to support student life in Eindhoven.

With Quadrivium, he initiated Muziek op de Dommel and brought the classical music event to campus. It’s just like Erik to think: Why not have a podium on the Dommel? “Everything’s possible here at TU/e. If you come up with a fun idea, everyone will help you see it through,” he said afterwards.


In 2012, the Built Environment student completed his Architecture degree, but he wasn’t an out-of-work architect for very long. Succinctly put: “I love the profession, but hate the work.” What he means is: “Executing a project is often about moving around walls because the client wants things done more cheaply. A nice design suffers because of finances and other peripheral matters. Designing, which is awesome, is only a small part of the big picture.” All in all, Erik prefers to work with people and that’s exactly what he’s been able to do at TU/e.

More or less by coincidence, right after graduating he was asked to contribute to student association policy – a paid project commissioned by General Affairs. This was followed by a position as coordinator of CLUSTER Network (a network of twelve European universities, similar to EuroTech). “When that had run its course in 2016, I read that TU/e was looking for someone to set up projects in order to strengthen the community. The TU/e was transforming into an English-speaking university and the internationals were a minority. Minorities require activities, meeting places and policy. I had enough energy to come up with those things and implement them, so I became TU/e’s community manager.”

TU/e’s event magician

De Jong has always considered ‘community manager’ to be the “worst possible description of what I do”. Having said that, he’s having trouble coming up with a better one himself, so that’s why Cursor asked TU/e people who know him well for input. Head of Studium Generale Lucas Asselbergs can think of two apt descriptions: chief student supporter and mayor of WinTU/er Village. As Erik set up so many special events, Lara Hofstra (student diversity officer) would like to qualify him as TU/e’s event magician. Mayke Scheffer (former FSE board member) calls Erik a professional pipe dreamer. And Joep Huiskamp, retired policy officer, thinks his business card should read: Minister of Extracurricular Activities at TU/e.


Cursor also took the opportunity to ask these people for the stories they’ll never forget. Huiskamp: “Erik and I were on the judging panel for the World Championship Chupar de Flan (flan slurping), organized by Tuna Ciudad de Luz at D’n Hertog bar. A cultural highlight in Erik’s rich career of course.” It even made the local paper.

Asselbergs remembers that Erik insisted the university’s 65th birthday in 2021, which was themed ‘Heroes like you’, be marked by a tightrope walker crossing from Vertigo to Atlas. “The mere thought gave the Executive Board a fit, all the more so because Erik had said that the tightrope walker (David Dimitri) would only ever do this without belaying, so that would be a definite no-go for the Board. In the end it did happen, and even though he was on belay it was still a breathtaking and memorable crossing, partly due to the strong side winds. Hundreds of people caught it on camera. Erik likes to shoot for the impossible. An ice rink in Atlas, who thinks of something like that?”


Erik hasn’t only made his mark in people’s memories, but also in the digital realm. He secured a space for all student (and other university-related) associations on the TU/e website and Mayke Scheffers tells us she has heard Erik call himself 'E dot D dot Jong' in countless meetings, as part of his efforts to introduce first names in Outlook and Teams. I’m not sure if he knows about this, but this is why within FSE we referred to him as Edje.”

Erik de Jong has carried out so many unusual ideas that we can’t name them all. But the flinging of Christmas trees across the pond for the first edition of WinTUer Village and the purchase of the red Piaggio tricycle of Italian make top many a person’s list of fun things to happen at TU/e.

For me, setting up the TU/e Summer University typifies Erik. He simply took concerns about how miserable internationals would be over the COVID summer and turned them into activities, enlisting the help of others as he went along. When in 2020 internationals couldn’t fly home to their families, they were able to have a great time on Eindhoven campus instead.

Erik’s legacy

On Friday, March 15, Erik will clear out his workspace at MetaForum. He’ll come across games, goodies, archives, stickers and – very important – the key to the Piaggio, the Italian tricycle that doubles as a pop-up store. Lara Hofstra: “This guy really has secret stashes of event stuff all over campus.” She expects “us to discover his things every time we clean or renovate in the decades ahead… kind of like a magical time capsule of the legacy of Erik.”

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