New dispuut Défi offers rarified challenge

They want to organize challenging activities for their members, take people out of their comfort zone, or, to use the terms of their dispuut-in-formation, to keep on 'acting outside the box'. This goal was certainly achieved with the stunt that GEWIS dispuut-in-formation Défi held today: 120 people had the chance to abseil down Vertigo.

The founders of dispuut-in-formation Défi - a real mouthful but they hope to ditch the suffix 'in-formation' when the GEWIS board meets tomorrow - like a challenge. Jealy van den Aker, president of Défi, explains that study association GEWIS has plenty of disputen, but that among them she and her friends couldn't quite find that element of 'going beyond your limits'. "Most disputen at GEWIS [the societies whose members are drawn from different year groups, ed.] have a theme, but going outside your comfort zone is not one of them. That's why we decided to set up a dispuut ourselves," says Van den Aker.

That was six months ago and today the dispuut-in-formation has passed a couple of milestones. Romy Schellekens, both a member of Défi and a board member of GEWIS: "Every new dispuut is set a number of milestones by the GEWIS board, so it can prove itself." For example, they had to find two prospective members - check, because Merel Pennekamp and Jet Kooijman are on board - and organize three activities - check. These were a visit to Gay Pride, 'blind' dining, and abseiling off Vertigo, which was completed with the considerable help of the Eindhoven Students Alpine Club ESAC.


Scheduled for tomorrow is the GEWIS board meeting at which it will be decided whether Défi (French for 'challenge') may become an official dispuut of the study association of Mathematics and Computer Science. "By the end of that meeting we hope we'll be 'founded'," says Schellekens. This will clear the way for other GEWIS members to join the dispuut, whose members until now have all been women. "But we are not a women's dispuut," Van den Aker is keen to emphasize. Anyone who wants to become a member must prove themselves in Défi style. So prospective member Jet Kooijman, for example, made a rocky road fudge with maggots and insects in it. "And, of course, there has to be a click; more than anything, for us, it's about having fun together."


Abseiling down Vertigo certainly came under the heading of 'challenging': no fewer than 120 GEWIS members put on a harness to drop down Vertigo attached to a rope, past the elevator shafts on the east face of the building. Standing on the roof of the Built Environment building was a team of ESAC members, ready to safely manage the descents and explain everything to the participants. "Without ESAC we could never have done this," says Schellekens.

As anticipated, the most stomach-churning moment came at the start, when you lean back in the harness and transfer your weight onto the rope from which you are hanging. This was followed by either a gentle descent - many people 'walked' down taking little steps - or big leaps, covering the 45 meters to the bottom, to Vertigo's floor 3 and the next flat roof. Most reached the base surging with adrenalin. "Everyone says they thought it was very scary before they started, but that it turned out to be really cool," says Défi president Van den Aker. "And for us that's what it's all about: getting over yourself, changing your mindset, and doing it, that's what Défi stands for!"

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