Dutch Student Associations and INKOM

INKOM vs. ‘Fresher’s Week’

A lot has happened since INKOM. I have heard a lot of feedback about INKOM – which is generally an amazing party to start off student life here in Maastricht.

However, INKOM has been mistaken by many as being an equivalent to ‘FreshersWeek’ in the UK (the first week of universities with introduction activities, but best known for the parties). INKOM began as a way for one of the biggest Student Associations in Maastricht to gain members. This was later adopted by the university but still has the overtone of ‘student association’.


What is a ‘Student Association’?

The student association kids can be seen in their matching branded t-shirts, trousers or more commonly – jackets. The student associations or ‘studenten vereniging’ are much like their Greek counter-parts in the US (‘Alpha Beta Gamma’ or whatever), but here in Maastricht their back’s scream ‘Saurus’, ‘Koko’ or ‘Circumflex’.

They seem to cause a great deal of interest and debate here in Maastricht as most of these associations are Dutch speaking only. During the INKOM they make them seem incredibly appealing – an exclusive group, exciting, fun, popular, cool, good parties and ‘Hazing’ (initiations)…

Why should I/ should I not join one?

However, a growing number of the students here in Maastricht are not Dutch. There are one or two student associations that I have heard of that are for ‘Internationals’, and some people I know use the student association as a way to improve their Dutch.
There are tensions as those who are ‘anti-student association’ are generally of the opinion that student associations are for the ‘lost’ – those who cannot make their own friends. They need to feel part of something so badly that they are willing to go through humiliating initiation tests. For many student associations you must also meet up with your ‘dispuut’ (or mini group within the association) 2 or 3 times a week. This can lead – for many – to failure in their University exams or a need to extend their studies.
Those who are part of these associations say that they meet lots of friends there, that they have great fun and that it feels really good to be part of something. Especially in Maastricht where there is no campus, it makes it more difficult to make friends. I certainly hear that the craziest parties seem to happen for the associations (although many aspects are a secret within the association). I also hear of some of the mad things that people have to do for their association ‘Hazing’…


So in short:

Should you join a student association in the Netherlands?:

Pros                                                                                                             Cons
Part of Something                                                                                  Strange initiation tests
Cool Jackets                                                                                             Time commitment –possibly affecting studies
Fun Parties                                                                                               Might be ‘fake’ friends
Make Friends                                                                                          All in Dutch
Learn Dutch?                                                                                          The Jackets are lame.

1 reply
  1. Julian Slotman
    Julian Slotman says:

    I really like that you try to give a global overview of pros and cons and as I member of a Dutch student association I would like to make a few minor remarks/ additions. I know it will be hard for me to sound objective, so I will try not to be overly enthusiastic.

    To start with the cons:

    I agree with most of the points except for the ones that fellow members are ‘fake friends’, considering that the average student has 200 – 1000 friends on Facebook I really would want to question your definition of ‘friends’. Members of Dutch student associations may seem to have hundreds of ‘friends’, i.e. fellow members, but in reality most of them only have a normally sized group of close friends, which includes usually also non-members!

    Also, I do not think it influences your GPA/ results, most fraternities and sororities use a high level of peer-pressure to improve studying. It requires always a lot of self control to be able to balance between partying and studying but self control is IMO a skill you can develop.

    To conclude, I do regret that very few international students join a student association. I know a few that learned Dutch quickly and have a great time as being a member but I must admit that most student associations don’t put much effort in recruiting international students. A shame since Maastricht has such a nice international vibe!

    PS. The jackets are kinda lame, indeed.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *