The new school year has started and in Utrecht that means the university and colleges have started as well. Did you know the city welcomes 15,000 new students every year? About 20% of the city population is student.
Perhaps you have noticed the influx of students cycling badly, who try to get to college on time by blatantly ignoring all other traffic and traffic lights. (I have to confess, although I am not a student anymore I still exhibit the same behaviour when I cycle to work). Also, the bustle on Thursday nights in the city centre is hard to miss. Thursday is the day for students to go out for the evening, for on Friday everybody naturally takes the train back home to take advantage of the cooking and laundry service at home!
Last August saw the city-wide Utrechtse Introductie Tijd (UIT) activities, where new students can explore the city and orientate to the student life.
It is exactly ten years ago that I ‘walked the UIT’, and I remember the exciting feeling that the rest of my life was finally beginning. The UIT is also an opportunity for student associations to present themselves to the new students.
How many of the 15,000 new students are looking for a new Christian environment to find friends and activities? It is hard to guess. Utrecht has six Christian student associations (apart from the international student ministry, which focuses on English speaking students).
- SSR-NU (the oldest, funded in 1906),
- NSU (the largest with over 500 members),
- Ichthus (the happiest, ask Rosemarie),
- Sola Scriptura (the most biblical, I guess),
- Ultrajectum (focussed on HBO-students), and
- VGSU (I really don’t know anything about VGSU, sorry!)
Why so many? I guess the chasms of denominations still run deep… But luckily they realize that cooperation and ecumenism is important, also in student life. The Broederoverleg Christelijke Studenten (BOCS for short) is the umbrella organisation that represents the interest of all Christian student associations in the university and in the city. They also organize cooperative events between the student associations. Did you know last year’s president of the BOCS was Erik Heemskerk (right), who is our new Coordinator of Student Ministry at HTC? He will most likely be very happy to tell you a lot more about the BOCS and the Christian student life in Utrecht.
But the most important thing: let us pray that all Christian students find a home and spiritual growth in one of the student associations or in other places, and that not one of the 15,000 will feel alone.