Intro 2023 | 25 years ago


On August 31, 2023 I’m celebrating my 25th anniversary at TU/e. I had my first day as a student here on August 31, 1998. Of course I was also present in Eindhoven for the Intro that year, but back then it was more about beer and less about the university. One of the things I learned that week is that foam isn’t soft (during the foam party at De Bunker I threw myself backwards onto the concrete floor). Ouch.

When I spoke to General Editor Han Konings about the Intro earlier this week, I indicated that I don’t think there have been too many changes at TU/e. As he wondered if that is indeed the case, I decided to delve into Cursor’s archives.

One thing that was the same in 1998 as it is today, is that there was a debate about the influence businesses have on research. At the time, it concerned automotive company DAF’s Hub van Doorne chair, which was instated “as a one-off exception” in 1999. Now there’s a debate about Shell, so University Rebellion protesting by occupying a board room is far from a new thing.

Lack of student housing is also an age-old issue. I myself was lucky enough to move into a Vestide room on 1 August 1998, thanks to having registered as a room seeker a year earlier. Back then, nobody noticed I was only 17 and not studying at TU/e yet. In 2004, the ‘space boxes’ were introduced on campus. These temporary living containers for students were there for over ten years.

Smoking is another issue that’s been hotly debated at TU/e for 25 years. In 1998 smoking was still allowed inside TU/e buildings, except for public spaces where it was banned. This ban was not enforced, however, and administrative offices and cafeterias were not considered public spaces. Even the members of our board ignored the ban, something that I voiced my disapproval about in a public letter (only in Dutch) in 2000. On July 1, 2004 smoking inside the buildings was banned everywhere and as of 2021 this is also the case for outside areas. However, there continue to be plenty of people that flaunt the ban, much to my displeasure.

In 2007, my work location moved from the Paviljoen to the main building. Just like today, the binding recommendation on the continuation of studies (BSA) was being debated. A public letter (only in Dutch) addressed the matter and the rector of the time also voiced his opinion (only in Dutch). More than 15 years later, it’s fun to read what colleagues thought about it back then and see if they turned out to be right.

What’s not changed in the course of 25 years, is the renovations at TU/e. Time and time again, somewhere on the campus a building is stripped and rebuilt. And time and time again, the architects are praised and the occupants are unhappy. In 2002, the new Vertigo building was classified as “damn unpractical” and I myself have been wondering for over twenty years when they’ll take the protective foil off.

In 2012, the MetaForum was completed and I’ve had an office there since then. I remember a wonderful discussion about the room numbers with the project leader. He kept insisting that these numbers had been assigned according to a system and that they therefore made sense. If you’re a new student and you’re wondering about this system: the rooms have been numbered according to a snail shell pattern, with the lowest number (59) having been assigned to the southwest corner and the numbers spiraling upwards as you proceed to the building’s interior. Rooms MF1 thru MF8 (on the northside) are exceptions, just like MF11 t/m MF15 (on floors 5, 5, 6, 7, and 8). I have yet to locate rooms MF9 and MF10.

As you spend time perusing Cursor’s archives, you’ll come across many more fun facts. For example, workload has been a topic of discussion between the university council and the unions on one hand and the board on the other hand for at least 25 years. And for as long as I can remember, the TU/e website has been utter chaos (just look at the links in this article), amidst of which things are pretty much impossible to find.

Having said all of this, some things did change in the course of those 25 years. Firstly, the Paviljoen. This building served as temporary accommodations for over fifty years (!) before it was finally demolished in 2021. Secondly, TU/e regularly changes its logo and corporate identity. Did you know, for instance, that the abbreviation ‘TU/e’ was made official in 2007, having been strictly forbidden in formal communications up to that point? And let’s not even get into the costs incurred in 2007 to replace the grey forward slash by a red one.

As you may have gathered, I’ve been having a great time at TU/e for 25 years now and I can’t wait to see what will (or won’t) change in the next 25. And I sincerely hope Cursor will be there to document it all.

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