"During the day it’s a madhouse"

"Good morning, Technical University, security speaking!" During the hardly twenty minutes that our telephone call lasts, TU/e security guard René Denkers receives at least six or seven more incoming calls. Whether the campus is mostly closed or not: "During the day it’s a madhouse."

photo Privécollectie René Denkers

Even though thousands of TU/e people have swopped the campus for their homes over a week ago; telephone traffic will continue unabated, Denkers says (and proves). For example, employees asking whether they can pick up their slightly more comfortable office chair in the office, or being already on campus and in front of a closed building entrance (who are granted remote access only with explicit permission). Beeps sound in the background. "Are you at the right door? You should be able to get in now. Yes? Okay, bye.”

"Yes, here I am again." Denkers is working the early shift this week, which means that he is up and running from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon. Normally, the team consists of three security guards per shift, but this Tuesday they are ‘coincidentally’ four. After all, TU/e security also runs on an almost deserted campus according to its usual schedule and routines, which means nine men/women per day. "We monitor, check the buildings, let people in, operate the barriers and provide all kinds of practical services." The TU/e fire brigade is not physically present at the moment, but is on picket service. The regional fire brigade has the joint campus barracks mainly for itself until further notice, and comes out when summoned, also on the university grounds.

VIP status

At the moment, all buildings on campus are closed, except Atlas. Any visitors can report to the reception there. A limited number of people have a ‘VIP status’, Denkers says. Employees of Real Estate Management and Internal Affairs, for example, are always present in pairs during office hours, but also employees of the cleaning company. "Even though there is hardly anyone now, you have to keep up a bit." Oh, and the people of the catering, of course, "who take very good care of us, that really has to be said."

It feels a bit like the days between Christmas and the New Year, Denkers stresses, when the TU/e is also closed. "Wait a minute, the phone is ringing again. … But,” as he continues his story a little later, "it is a bit more hectic now, because people have to go in and out all the time to arrange things."

In the evenings and night, on the other hand, “there is really not much to do. We make our regular rounds, and especially check the so-called risk buildings, such as Helix, just as always very accurately.” It is also quiet around the richly populated residential towers Aurora and Luna, according to Denkers - the so-called 'plinth' in Luna, which houses the community café Hubble and the Spar supermarket, a normally very lively area, is also closed.


It’s not the case that every passer-by on the campus is now viewed with suspicion, “but we are more alert. It just stands out right now when someone walks around.” This also applies to people who want to use the opportunity to work on their physique on the sports fields around the (closed) Student Sports Centre, who are sent away without mercy by security. And for the youth who like to hang out in the covered market hall of MetaForum, currently bordered on all sides with a prominent red and white ribbon: "But it still seems some are not impressed."

Phone rings again. "Good morning, Technical University, security speaking!" Denkers laughs: "Busy, busy, busy." He tries to maintain a level-headed view in these special circumstances as much as possible. “We're just doing our job and, as far as we know, we're all healthy, fortunately."

He hopes that campus life can soon be resumed in the familiar way: “Let it all go back to normal; I think it has been long enough for many people.” But his proverbial gut feeling secretly thinks otherwise, as Denkers reveals. “I hope not, but I'm afraid the academic year is finished. Well. Who would have thought that, right?”

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