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.
Every two weeks, our columnist Gerrit Breeuwsma sheds his light on the university. And on his children’s school. And on Ben Feringa. And on the apple pie his wife makes. And other pies.
This list might seem incoherent (which Breeuwsma himself isn’t, to give credit where credit is due), but that’s what’s so great about columns. They can be about anything. Some writers talk about current events, others sing nature’s praises, and yet others talk about love. They can be speculative, melancholic, biting, or conciliatory.
Columns can be about something that actually happened, or something completely made up. Their inspiration can be tangible, or the opposite: a fleeting thought, an anecdote, a memory, or an overheard (or even entirely made-up) conversation.
Because of all this, it’s hard to define what a column truly is. I tried looking it up. I didn’t get much further than the formal and fairly meaningless ‘a regular short text of recurring size published in the same space and/or same typography or design’. That’s not so much a definition as a guideline.
At the same time, that’s what lends columns their beauty and power: there are next to no limitations. Anything goes (well, a lot goes). And the law agrees. Journalists and commentators are bound by certain (legal) rules of conduct (no defamation or slander) and societal standards (of decency). A columnist, however, has a bit of wiggle room.
The UK is looking for such a columnist (see the ad on our website). Not another Breeuwsma, because we already have one of those, but a student who can, and dares to, write. A thinker of original thoughts. Someone who lets every day surprise and amaze them. Someone who can be nice when they should be nice, and can take a swing at things that need swinging at.
The RUG has more than 31,000 students. Surely one of them is the new Sylvia Witteman or Aaf Brandt Corstius.
Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief