This is how the RUG is celebrating its 405th birthday

The university is turning 405 years old, and that means it’s time for a party. We have much to look forward to: the programme was announced on Tuesday afternoon.
By Thereza Langeler / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

The RUG announced the theme last September: all inclusive. ‘We want the anniversary to offer something to absolutely everyone at the university’, rector magnificus Elmer Sterken said on Tuesday afternoon. ‘But we also want to include the rest of society and leave our ivory tower. Our programme does that.’

Have a look at the programme below so you can plan which events you want to attend this this summer. All inclusive means everyone is welcome, after all.

6 June: ‘Growing Together’ conference

Four hundred visitors from all over the world will be coming to the Academy building to discuss ‘celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion’. We need to do more than just tolerate the other, says Monica Lopez Lopez, who is organising the conference as part of a special academic council. ‘We have to celebrate our differences. And we should be having honest conversations about the causes of social exclusion.’

In order to make sure the conference is all inclusive, more than just academics have been invited. There are five different tracks within the conference: for researchers, students, lecturers, community leaders, and diversity officers. Pick which one you think matches you best, we suppose.

That night, the university will announce the one hundredth Rosalind Franklin fellow, a programme aimed at stimulating female academic talent.

7 June: Cake!

You can’t really have a party without cake. That is why on Wednesday, 7 June, there will be a bake-off and cake tasting event (with champagne!) at the Broerplein. It’s not unlike the Great British Bake-Off, and RUG alumna and winner of the third season of the Dutch version of the programme Sarena Solari will pick the winning cake.

8 June: The Night Returns

Up until 2016, the RUG organised the Night of Arts and Science every year. They would host a slew of events with that theme in the city centre.

It was a lot of fun, but it was also an organisational hassle that the RUG, Hanze, and the city never really got the hang of. The Night was cancelled in 2017 and 2018, but this year there will be a special anniversary edition. You can order tickets starting 4 March.

12 June: 2 voor 12 and Ren je Rot

Faculty teams will battle each other in the RUG version of these two classic Dutch television games. Or at least, that’s how we think it will go. The university just says it’s ‘a quiz and a sporting event’.

All the departments, services, and facilities of the RUG can send a team. And if you want to win, make sure your team is as all inclusive as possible.

13 June: No gala, but an Extravaganza

All RUG staff and students and their guests are invited to come to the Martiniplaza, dressed like ‘themselves, or the most extravagant version of themselves’ for a kind of ‘out there’ version of the traditional anniversary ball. People can go as crazy as they want; there is no dress code. There will be a performance by ‘a famous Groningen theatre group’, but that’s all presenter Bram Douwes will tell us.

14 June: Honorary doctorates

Elmer Sterken will award cell biologist Titia de Lange and historian Philipp Blom honorary doctorates during a ceremony in the Martini church. People get honorary doctorates for special achievements, whether scientific or not, and without writing a doctoral thesis. An anniversary without honorary doctorates is like a party without cake; five years ago, the RUG awarded no fewer than ten of them.

Philipp Blom is originally from Hamburg and currently lives in Vienna. He is a writer for both British and German newspapers and published several novels. Titia de Lange’s research focuses on the biology of ageing. Thanks to her research, we now know more about cell division and the transference of genomes.

15 June: Throwback Saturday

15 June is the day where all the alumni can come back for a visit. They’ll be treated to a brunch at the Grote Markt and a subsequent programme at their old faculties. That evening, there will be party at the Broerplein. What can we expect from this party? Bram Douwes has promised us that there will be a DJ at the Academy building’s balcony. And because it’s Saturday, the regular Groningen citizens are also welcome to show up and let loose.

Other stuff you can do

The renovated University Museum will reopen on 5 June. You can visit the permanent exhibition on the history of the RUG, and art historian Eva Rovers is setting up a  special anniversary exhibition together with the Vera Art Division.

The play Totally Shifted will start at the Grand Theatre on 7 June, directed by Jack Nieborg (who previously worked with the Shakespeare theatre in Diever and directed serial play Uut de Hoogte). The play lasts about ‘half a footy game’ and will shed a light on internationalisation and the relationship between students and the city. There will be live music and people will be seated in the middle of the stage with the action taking place around them.

The RUG Language Centre will organise an essay contest for students. Peole have until 3 May to send in a 2000-word essay in a bid to become the very first winner of the Gerrit Krol prize, which will be awarded on 12 June. The writer of the best essay will win 2,000 euros and the three best essays will be published on literary blog Tzum.

Not at all surprisingly, the theme of the contest is inclusivity. Interestingly enough, in spite of this theme, the contest will only accept entries in Dutch. But, says Ronald Ohlsen with the Language Centre, that can be explained: goal of the contest is to shed a spotlight on Dutch as an academic language and to prevent it from losing out to English. ‘If we don’t promote Dutch we’ll soon find ourselves back the Middle Ages, using a single scientific lingua franca that has no connection to actual society.’ And that would obviously not be very divers.



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