Failed to pay your house bar tab? Go straight to jail

‘A board game about fraternities is playful and innocent’, say Vindicat members Lara Winter and Quinten van den Berg.

Vindicat members create custom Monopoly game

Failed to pay your house bar tab? Go straight to jail

To kill time during quarantine, Vindicat members Quinten van den Berg and Lara Winter would play Monopoly. A lot. This made them wonder whether there was a student edition of their favourite board game.

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‘Playing the game led to us brainstorming about a student edition, and we decided to really make a go of it’, says Quinten (22), who studies econometrics. ‘We first had the idea to make Student-opoly, which would involve all the Dutch universities’, adds mathematics and economics student Lara (24). 

In the end, they settled on a version about student fraternities, inspired by their own Vindicat memberships. ‘We’re just more familiar with that’, explains Quinten. ‘Because it’s just a hobby project, we wanted to make it about what we know. An Ajax fan would make an Ajax version of Monopoy, not one about all the clubs in the league.’ 

Eight clubs

Since Monopoly is copyrighted, they had to ask the owners for permission. The owners then pointed them in the direction of Dutch manufacturer Identity Games, who were ‘really enthusiastic and ready to go’, says Lara. Next, they approached eight student clubs: in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, Groningen, Wageningen, Delft, and Utrecht. The latter is represented by two student clubs in the game, since they’re still segregated by gender. ‘It all went very smoothly. They were all open to working with us.’  

The next step was much more difficult: they had to design the actual game. As Lara explains, some aspects of the game cannot be changed. ‘Go, free parking, go to jail, and the jail square itself all have to stay the same.  The Chance and Community Chest cards also can’t be changed. But we were allowed to put whatever we want on those cards.’

Go back to GO for your DUO money

They came up with such things as: ‘You didn’t pay your house bar tab. Go back to GO for your DUO money, or you’ll be expelled and have to go straight to jail’ and ‘By biking everywhere, you’ve lost five kilos of the weight you gained in your first year. You’re awarded a hundred euros as a bonus.’ 

‘It really gives players a feel for student life, teaching them how it works’, says Quinten. 

Lighthearted

The regular version of Monopoly has city streets, but the student edition has fraternities, club houses, and the frats’ dance halls. ‘The board looks like this: Vindicat – Mutua Fides – Van der Rijnst’, says Quinten. ‘It’ll teach the outside world about all the different names the clubs have for things.’

He says he’s not worried about any backlash. ‘It’s a game about fraternities; it’s playful and innocent. It’s just a bit of lightheartedness. It’s just to give people a chance to see behind the curtain.’

It gives people a chance to see behind the curtain

The board game will be published in November, and fraternity members can already sign up for their own copy. ‘They can request to have their debating society or year club’s logo printed in the middle of the board’, says Quinten. 

But the game isn’t exclusively available to club members. ‘Everyone who’s interested in student life can buy the game through the Monopoly web shop and Bol.com.’ 

They hope to market the game on the student associations’ social media channels. ‘It’s the best way to reach students’, says Quinten. ‘And we’re talking to two famous Dutch people about promoting our game on their social media. Hopefully, that will help, too.’

Ambitious

Since students generally don’t have a lot of money and certainly not during this health crisis, the first edition of the game will be discounted. ‘We’re keeping it affordable and accessible. We’ll play to a bigger market later’, says Quinten. They are ambitious: ‘If this version is a success, we want to make one for all students. This is our pilot. Any future edition will cover more ground.’

The whole project has taught them a lot. ‘Entrepreneurship is so exciting. You have to take care of every little detail to minimise your chance of any losses’, says Lara. ‘It’s so different to what I do in the library’, adds Quinten. ‘That makes it even more fun. It’s a game we can always be proud of. 

Banned from relaxing in front of your own house

Photo by Bram Hulzebos

Nine people, one household

Banned from relaxing in front of your own house

We were trying really hard to follow the rules of quarantine, but it turns out that not even the proper authorities know whether students living together constitutes a household. How are you supposed to stay five feet away when there’s nine of you living in one house?
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March 23, 7 pm. My eight roommates and I are sitting on the couch in our house at the H.W. Mesdagstraat. We’ve put off cooking, because we all want to watch the press conference that’s on television. The coronavirus is inching ever closer, and we’re slowly getting a little nervous. What’s going to happen? Exams have already been cancelled, we’re no longer allowed to shake hands, and in Italy, the situation is getting completely out of hand. What’s next?

Then, prime minister Mark Rutte makes his announcement: we have to stay five feet away from each other at all times and no more than two people can be outside together, unless they’re part of the same household. At the end of the broadcast, we’re all quiet. ‘I guess we have to outside in small groups from now on’, my roommate Hannah eventually says. After all, it would be hard to explain that the nine of us form a single household.

Sardines

We sit down together at our kitchen table. After some discussion, we decide to limit our groups to three people at a time, since we’re nine people in the house. At this point, we still figure that a household means ‘people living together in a house’. Surely we count. How are we supposed to keep our distance when passing each other in the narrow hallways? What about sharing a bathroom with three people? Our kitchen might be spacious, but that doesn’t mean there’s enough room for us to each prepare our food separately. We’re lucky to be in this house, as in our last one, we were packed like sardines.

There’s not enough room in the kitchen to prepare our food separately

From now on, we will go outside in groups of three. We’ll wait a few minutes after one group has left before the other ones goes outside. We won’t be inviting anybody over: some of our parents are at-risk, which means we had to decide whether to quarantine together, or separately with our parents. We agree that if someone goes home, they stay there for two weeks, and if anyone starts feeling ill, they’re confined to their room. 

We’ll have to make do, although I’m secretly enjoying it a little, too. We only just moved into this house together, and it’s a unique opportunity: we can fix up the house together, and it’s a chance for me to really socialise before I graduate from law school in September and move to Amsterdam. 

List

‘Let’s make a list of what we still need to do’, says Elisa after a few days of jigsaw puzzles and sudoku. Good plan. ‘Hang pictures’, we write on the list. ‘Paint the kitchen. Paint the common living room. Clean the cupboards.’

But we’re also becoming aware of everything we’re missing. We can’t go to Oceans, to the Kroeg, or to the Kokomo. I never thought I’d feel this way, but I actually miss the UB! I miss going to class. I want to go to the Aletta Jacobs hall and just sit my exams like normal; the law faculty hasn’t found a solution for this yet. 

In an effort to stay sane, we organise things. We work out together in the garden and organise theme parties. In groups of three. ‘We’ll stick to the rules when we need to get supplies’, says roommate Fleur. 

Quarantine jumpers

Together with Elise and Tessa, I organise a French evening, with a wine-tasting and cheese from the Albert Heijn. We play Une belle histoire. Hannah and Anne set up a scavenger hunt for Elise’s birthday, with activities throughout the house. The final prize is us, in our cute dresses rather than our quarantine jumpers, serving her oysters. There’s also a horse race for her to bet on, although we have to make do with a card game instead of the racetrack. We’re just trying to get through this quarantine without breaking any rules. 

You’re less than five feet apart, ladies!

One night, as I’m walking through the Noorderplantsoen with my roommates Anne and Tessa, we’re approached by a police officer. ‘You’re less than five feet apart, ladies’, he says. He sounds like this isn’t the first time tonight he’s had to issue the warning. 

Anne tries to placate him. ‘We’re roommates’, she says. ‘We’re a bunch of women living together. That makes us a household, doesn’t it?’ 

The offices is unimpressed. ‘I’m assuming you don’t sleep in the same bed or are related to each other’, he says. ‘That means that you have to stay five feet away from each other, both inside and outside.’  

Oh. We didn’t know that. 

Selection menu

We walk on, five feet apart, confused. Have we been doing it wrong all this time? Does this mean we’re not a household after all? Is there a definition somewhere? Because if it’s true, everyone we know has been doing it wrong. Student houses are all organising themed evenings and walking around in groups of three, like us. And let’s be honest: if we’re not a household, what are we supposed to do?

We figure it’s a good idea to call the GGD (public health service) for some clarity. I beep my way through the selection menu and finally talk to a woman who allays my fears. ‘Student houses count as households’, she says firmly. ‘They share a front door, as well as a kitchen and a bathroom most of the time. The rules all apply to student houses.’

She leaves no room for doubt. ‘Student houses can decide for themselves whether they’re a household’, she adds. ‘Just keep in mind that they need to stay together at all times and make no trips to their parents.’

I tell her about the incident with the police officer. ‘No’, she repeats, ‘we want to put out the message that students count as a household.’

Conundrum

All right. I am relieved. We’re okay.

But a few days later, I’m looking at the website for the municipality of Groningen, and they feel entirely differently. Their FAQ page says we should be staying five feet away from each other. Parties are ‘unwise’, even if only roommates attend, since we have to keep that distance. We can’t even sit outside on the sidewalk, because, again, we have to stay five feet away. 

Am I supposed to video chat with my roommates?

It’s a conundrum. The GGD says we’re a household, but the municipality says we aren’t. We’re trying so hard to get it right, but this is just frustrating. A friend of mine has six siblings. Should they stay five feet away from each other?  

Other cities have apparently fined roommates for standing too close to each other. It’s frustrating when you’re doing your best and the information isn’t even conclusive. Should we start using the kitchen in turns? Each clean a small patch of the garden? Am I supposed to video chat with my roommates?

We’re letting the issue rest for now. We’ve all gone to our parents for Easter, taking extra precautions where necessary, and we don’t have to think about it for a while? But we’ll all be returning this week. What are we supposed to do then? 

GGD? Municipality? Can anyone tell us?

Student enterprise Swapcouch decorates your room for you

Swapcouch decorates your room for you

If you don’t feel like dragging a couch up two floors or swear your way through an IKEA manual, Swapcouch has got you covered. Inspired by Swapfiets, two Groningen students started a furniture rental company.
18 December om 11:09 uur.
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om 11:11 uur.
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18 December om 11:09 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 18 December 2019
om 11:11 uur.
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December 18 at 11:09 AM.
Last modified on December 18, 2019
at 11:11 AM.

Students who only live somewhere for a short time don’t want to deal with too much crap. Buying furniture, renting a trailer, getting someone to help you carry everything, all for just a few months: can’t someone else do it? That’s the idea behind Swapcouch, the furniture rental company set up by Bendix Zijlstra and Maurice Panman.

The two met each other when studying international business and management at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and have since both switched to the finance pre-master at the RUG. ‘But we’d rather be entrepreneurs than students’, says Maurice. 

They decided to start their own company. They came up with Swapcouch as they were taking a walk through the Noorderplantsoen. ‘We took a notebook, had a beer, and just started brainstorming ideas.’ This was before the summer; by August, they had a watertight concept. 

Standard package

So how does it work? ‘It’s really simple. You rent the furniture for at least three months, after which you can extend the rental period for as long as you want’, says Bendix. ‘Students themselves don’t have to carry anything up stairs or anything’, Maurice adds. ‘We show up and put everything together. It’s the total package. We want to make it easy for everyone.’ 

The pair bought the furniture at IKEA, among other places. Their standard package is 59.99 and consists of a couch, a wardrobe, a table with two chairs, and a bed with a mattress. Students can also put together their own package.   

Swapcouch is mainly aimed at international students, since they often only stay in Groningen for a little while. Maurice and Bendix both studied abroad for a while and hated having to get furniture for a six-month stay. 

Sturdy

Student furniture should be sturdy. ‘We picked out robust furniture to ensure it can stand the test of time’, says Bendix. A few scratches are fine, ‘but if a pillow comes back all messed up, something happened to it. Pillows don’t tear on their own.’ To prevent stuff like this, Swapcouch charges a deposit.

The students celebrated when they got their first customer. ‘We were so happy when we got the e-mail. It was a normal weekday, but we did have a beer at the house where we delivered the furniture’, says Benix. 

Right now, it’s just Maurice and Bendix who deliver the furniture, but they hope to be able to hire others in the future. ‘We currently deliver to Groningen, Zwolle, and Leeuwarden, but it’d be amazing if Swapcouch went national.’