For, not by, the RUG

Every day, the editorial staff at the UK wonders: What are we writing about, why are we writing about it, and how are we writing about it? A weekly look behind the scenes.

The name UK can sometimes lead to misunderstanding. Internationals may think it refers to the United Kingdom, while others think the university newspaper – as the name implies – is ‘for and by and of’ the RUG.

The first one is correct: we are ‘for’ the university. The rest is incorrect. We are not ‘by’ the university, nor are we ‘of’ the university. Our ‘boss’ is not the Board of Directors, but a foundation board comprised of a number of wise people from all over the RUG who feel that an independent journalistic medium at the university is important and who fully support it.

People’s misconceptions about how we are ‘for’ the RUG but not ‘by’ the RUG can be difficult to clear up sometimes. People will ask me ‘why are you so critical of plan X or project Y? Don’t you know that damages to the university’s interests?’And: ‘the UK should be prouder of the RUG sometimes’.G.

Immensely proud

I am proud of the RUG. Immensely proud. Anyone who isn’t, isn’t welcome in our newsroom as far as I’m concerned. But being proud of something doesn’t mean you’re not critical – those are two completely different things that should not be conflated.

The question I always ask in return: Can you explain to me where or in what way we are unnecessarily critical? What do you mean when you say we do damage to the university? Often, I am told that time and again, we seem to look long and hard until we manage to find the jagged edges and the most annoying critics (‘And you’re very good at looking hard at things’).

People assume that we purposefully set out to criticise these plans or projects (and, as I heard recently, that we threaten to kill these plans and projects). That makes me very sad. Because it’s not like that.

But even good and great plans evoke resistance sometimes, because not everyone agrees on what’s good and great. You can’t expect the 37,000 right-minded people at the RUG to always agree on everything. And unions, political parties, and other interest groups simply aren’t always as enthusiastic about what the university wants.


This is what the UK does, and what we must do. We write about the plans and their creators, but we also give a voice to those who have their doubts. I admit: we have to go about this in a (more) balanced way, but it’s got nothing to do with preconceived negativity or a lack of pride.

A plan is only as good as the resistance it can withstand. In other words, a plan needs to be sturdy, or it isn’t a good plan.

And in that discussion, the editors will consider both the pros and the cons. Otherwise the UK will be ‘by and of’, but not ‘for’, the RUG.

Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief 



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