Read the best of UKrant in our magazine!

Read the best of UKrant in our magazine!

The corona crisis hasn’t stopped UKrant from publishing a magazine. We made the decision to not include any corona-related articles, since there are plenty of other stories to tell about the UG and life in the best student city in the Netherlands.
2 September om 12:05 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
September 2 at 12:05 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

Flip through the digital version of the magazine below. Enjoy!

What you need to know about covid and the UG

An overview of the viral crisis

Everything you need to know about corona and the UG

The news about corona keeps coming at us, faster and faster. On this page, the UKrant will keep a blog about everything going on at the UG. The page will be updated as the situation develops.
By UKrant
10 May om 14:29 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:20 uur.
May 10 at 14:29 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:20 PM.

may 8 2020

UB open for researchers on May 18

The UB will allow researchers back into the Special Collections room starting May 18. The rest of the library will remain closed for now.

Read more ⇨

may 6 2020

What will we be allowed to do from May 11 on?

The Netherlands will slowly be exiting out of the intelligent lockdown, the government announced during Wednesday’s press conference.

Read more ⇨

may 5 2020

Online education to continue after the summer

Online classes will continue after 1 September. The UG will extend its hybridised form of education into the new academic year, says board president Jouke de Vries: ‘Online because we can, and in person whenever we can.’

Read more ⇨

may 5 2020

Covid-19 deals a blow to student associations

No parties, no pub crawls, no massive sing-along at the Grote Markt. How will student associations deal with the cancellation of the introductory KEI week? ‘If we don’t recruit enough members, we’ll struggle for the next five years.’

Read more ⇨

may 4 2020

UG sets up crowdfunding for corona research

The UG and the UMCG, among others, have set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for research into viruses, specifically, the coronavirus.

Read more ⇨

april 30 2020

‘Here on the Covid ward I feel weak’

When the internships of UG medical students Laura von Iven, Paul van Stee, and Dora van Elk were interrupted by the corona crisis, they jumped at the opportunity to help out at the hospital in other ways. But what they’ve experienced will stay with them forever.

Read more ⇨

april 30 2020

‘Sixty seconds to recharge your battery’

To combat the creeping physical and emotional isolation of all the corona measures around the world, three UG students started a new initiative on Instagram called ‘Lockdown in 60’. In sixty seconds, users share a glimpse of their life during the corona crisis.

Read more ⇨

april 29 2020

Online testing is a bumpy process

The UKrant held a survey about online exams, and the 259 respondents said it’s going pretty well. Nevertheless, 70 percent ran into some issues. ‘Suddenly, I was locked out of the testing program.’

Read more ⇨

april 24 2020

Alex Friedrich: ‘COVID-19 is here to stay’

Physician and microbiologist Alex Friedrich became the face of the corona crisis in the north. He is happy with the measures the government.

Read more ⇨

april 22 2020

Get out of your pyjamas

Is the self-isolation getting to you after six weeks? Student psychologist Eva Slot and study advisor Mirjam Nederveen deal with struggling students all the time. ‘Staying in bed and wearing your pyjamas all day is the perfect recipe to feel bad.’

Read more ⇨

april 22 2020

Most Dutch corona measures prolonged until May 20

Most measures of the Dutch ‘intelligent lockdown’ will stay in effect until May 20, prime minister Rutte said during Tuesday’s press conference. The changes concern primary education and large-scale events.

Read more ⇨

april 21 2020

Working from home with kids? You can’t

Writing a paper at home, supervising your PhD students, or teaching online classes is basically impossible when you have small children at home. ‘I’m about half as productive as I usually am.’

Read more ⇨

april 20 2020

The silver linings of the lockdown

It’s not all bad news for students during the corona pandemic. Some have been picking up new activities, rediscovering old hobbies and taking time to reflect. ‘Trying new things has helped me stay positive.’

Read more ⇨

april 18 2020

Vindicat ignores corona rules, police fines 15

Last Friday night, the police fined fifteen Vindicat members for violating the corona measures. Rector Floris Hamann is furious with the students.

Read more ⇨

april 16 2020

What will the UG look like after the crisis?

What will the UG look like after the viral crisis? What will happen if social distancing becomes the new normal? How will we teach classes, how will we take the bus to Zernike? The UG board calls on everyone at the university to brainstorm solutions.

Read more ⇨

april 15 2020

No relaxing in front of your 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?

Read more ⇨

april 15 2020

FEB students: give us assignments

Students at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) argue that they should be given assignments instead of sitting online exams.

Read more ⇨

april 15 2020

Dating in the time of corona

With the corona outbreak, are students even still dating? When they are, do they actually meet up with people? Or would they rather stick to online meetings? ‘Unfortunately, you can’t have sex if you have to stay five feet away from each other.’

Read more ⇨

april 15 2020

As soon as this is over… Stop washing your hands

After SARS, Hong Kong turned into one big hospital, with hand sanitizer everywhere. Now Covid-19 might push the world to follow suit. Bad idea, says Nadine Voelkner: viruses are not our enemy. ‘It’s about living in harmony with the microbial world.’

Read more ⇨

april 14 2020

Fewer students in need of psychological guidance

The waitlist for an intake session with a psychologist at the Student Service Centre has been significantly reduced.

Read more ⇨

april 8 2020

Board: university needs tailor-made solutions

Every week, rector Cisca Wijmenga, board president Jouke de Vries, and board member in charge of finances Hans Biemans will be answering the most burning questions from the academic community.

Read more ⇨

april 7 2020

Lonely online PhD ceremony

The corona crisis has put a stop to all regular PhD ceremonies, which meant the UG had to come up with an alternative. On Monday, the first online PhD ceremony was held for medical toxicologist Danial Afsharzadeh.

Read more ⇨

april 7 2020

How much are we prepared to sacrifice?

When behavioural psychologist Pontus Leander saw the corona storm coming, he realised that he needed to do something. He is heading up a worldwide survey into people’s emotions and motivations around the pandemic. Because if we’re going to stop this thing, we need knowledge.

Read more ⇨

april 7 2020

Their final projects are useless

Many students’ final projects have come to a grinding halt because they are unable to finish their lab research. This has potentially far-reaching consequences, in particular for international students. ‘I have everything, except the conclusions.’

Read more ⇨

april 6 2020

First digital PhD defence at the UG

april 3 2020

‘The real shock to world trade is still coming’

The global economy, and especially the open Dutch economy, will be hit hard by the corona crisis, fears UG professor of economic growth and development Marcel Timmer. ‘I can already predict that the demand for goods from the Netherlands will decline.’

Read more ⇨

april 2 2020

‘All that I struggled for seems in vain’

International UG students Conor Ward and Kathleen Scherer are seeing their budgets evaporate due to the coronavirus. They’re disappointed in the university’s lack of support. ‘I can’t help but wonder where our money is going.’

Read more ⇨

april 1 2020

Why does corona affect people differently?

Why do some people get incredibly sick from the coronavirus while others don’t notice a thing? Geneticist Lude Franke thinks it might have something to do with their genes. Franke is heading up a large-scale Lifelines study into corona symptoms that’s set to start this week.

Read more ⇨
Show more news

april 1 2020

‘I want my uni and I want my friends’

Hundreds of international students have fled Groningen to return to their home countries. ‘I packed books and notes for my thesis, but I did not have time to pack anything else.’

Read more ⇨

march 31 2020

This is how to teach online classes

Across the university, UG lecturers have been preparing to teach their very first video classes. How are they going about it? What are some of the things they should avoid? Colleagues that have already made the switch provide tips. ‘Don’t expect everything to immediately go according to plan.’

Read more ⇨

march 31 2020

UG defers BSA for a year

The UG is following education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven’s advice to let all students with a negative BSA move on to the next year anyway.

Read more ⇨

march 30 2020

Poof! There goes your PhD ceremony

You worked hard for years, and you’ve gone to a lot of trouble to get your colleagues, friends, and family together on that special day when you’ll receive your doctoral degree. Then the coronavirus rears its ugly head.

Read more ⇨

march 27 2020

Op-ed: On privilege, (old) parents, and a pandemic

Assistent professor Esha Mendiratta is, like many other internationals at the UG, deeply concerned about her homeland and her parents, due to the coronavirus.

Read more ⇨

march 26 2020

Broke because of corona? Pay your tuition in May

If students can’t pay tuition on Thursday because of the coronavirus, the UG will delay the payment to May.

Read more ⇨

march 25 2020

Video: There’s finally room on the no. 15

With the UG buildings all closed, bus no. 15 picks up very few passengers on it route to Zernike. One advantage: with so little traffic on the road, it makes good time.

Read more ⇨

march 25 2020

Video: Zernike has never been so quiet

Zernike went from a bustling campus to a bunch of deserted streets and buildings. But it’s not without its beauty.

Read more ⇨

march 25 2020

Uncertainty around exams remains

There is still much uncertainty about what to do with the exams at the UG. Students are inundating their lecturers with e-mailed questions. But the lecturers don’t know what to tell them.

Read more ⇨

march 25 2020

Online classes: ‘Huh, it actually works pretty well’

Even the most computer-illiterate people at the UG had to face the music: both teaching and taking classes will have to be done online for a while. But students and staff say it’s working remarkably well. ‘We can do so much more than we knew we could.’  

Read more ⇨

march 24 2020

‘We’re building the plane as we’re flying it’

Now that all physical classes have been cancelled, the university’s technical support staff is swamped. They have to give people crash courses in online teaching and set up digital exams. ‘We’re building the plane as we’re flying it.’  

Read more ⇨

march 24 2020

Why the Netherlands is not on lockdown (yet)

With more and more European countries imposing complete lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Dutch are dubbed stubborn for not doing the same. What’s their rationale?

Read more ⇨

march 24 2020

Internationals can dissolve their rental contracts

The UG has decided that internationals renting a room from SSH or a container from Rizoem, can have their continuing contracts dissolved. The university will cover the cost of the vacancies.

Read more ⇨

march 23 2020

‘I’m proud that everyone is putting their back into it’

In just a few days, the UG crisis team ushered in a new reality for a community consisting of more than 38,00o people. The UKrant talked to board member Hans Biemans about how the corona measures came about and what the future holds.

Read more ⇨

march 22 2020

Rector Cisca Wijmenga: Five feet!

In a video message from Safety Region Groningen, UG rector Cisca Wijmenga reiterates the advice to stay at least five feet away from other people.

march 20 2020

Chair of UG board Jouke de Vries: ‘It’s quiet at the UG’

In a video message on YouTube chair of the UG board Jouke de Vries speaks to the academic community of Groningen.

march 20 2020

No physical lectures till end of August

The UG classrooms will stay empty until the end of this academic year. All physical classes and exams have been cancelled until August 31 because of the novel coronavirus.

The Broerplein was desolated the last couple of days. It will be like this until the end of August.
Read more ⇨

march 19 2020

There might already be a treatment

A treatment for the coronavirus might already exist, and it might just come from the labs at the UG. Researcher Paul Hagedoorn has been working around the clock to prepare the medication for the first round of testing.

Read more ⇨

march 19 2020

Figurehead UMCG has corona

UG professor and head of department of medical microbiology and infection prevention at the UMCG Alex Friedrich has been infected with the corona virus. The UMCG announced this on Thursday. ‘He literally and figuratively is our face during this time.’

The infection came to light during tests which the hospital performs amongst staff members. So far 656 tests have been performed and 28 people have turned out to be infected.

march 19 2020

UG: no more traveling abroad

The university board has issued an immediate international travel ban for all members of staff and students. This means all business trips abroad are no longer allowed. The measure will be upheld until at least April 10, but could be prolonged if necessary.

march 19 2020

VSNU and Ministry of Education speak about study progress

Students have many questions about their study progress. On Thursday the Dutch Ministry of Education and the association of Dutch universities VSNU discuss how to continue with the BSA, tuition fees, the registrations for bachelor and master programs and the financial consequences of repatriating staff and students who are currently still abroad.

march 19 2020

For them, corona poses a real risk

The elderly and sickly are vulnerable to corona, but young people only experience it as a mild flu. Right? But what if you have asthma or diabetes? ‘If I get infected, that could get ten times worse.’

Read more ⇨

march 19 2020

Leiden ends all physical classes until end of year, RUG considers options

All physical classes and exams at the University of Leiden have been cancelled until the end of the academic year. Where possible, all classes and exams will continue online. The university took this decision on Thursday. The academic year runs until August 31.

It is still unclear whether the UG will follow Leiden’s decision. A spokesperson says the possibility is being discussed, but no decision has been taken yet.

march 18 2020

Vindicat offers babysitting service for those with vital jobs

Studenten society Vindicat atque Polit and babysitting service Toppas Groningen are going to offer a free babysitting service for parents with kids that need to stay at home. All in all, there are over 250 students available with babysitting experience. Since they now suddenly have a lot of spare time on their hands, they are happy to help parents who work in vital sectors.

The plan has been developed in consultation with Groningen mayor Koen Schuiling and Veiligheidsregio Groningen.

This service will be advertised on the platform that brings all Groningen student initiatives together. Earlier, medical students also came up with a plan to help health care workers.

march 18 2020

The Great Lockdown

Experimental research at the UG has come to a sudden standstill. Researchers are doing their best to cope with one of the biggest crises the university has ever encountered. ‘All that’s left to do is create computer simulations and write articles.’

Read more ⇨

march 18 2020

No more jobs: ‘How will I pay my rent?’

The coronavirus is losing many students their income. Because they often have flex contracts, they don’t get paid while the pubs, restaurants, and companies they work at are closed. But they need the money.

‘I know my parents in Romania will have less money’, says student Miruna Lucaci. ‘That also worries me. I don’t want to be an extra burden if I can’t make it here financially.’

Read more ⇨

march 18 2020

A sympathetic ear to combat loneliness

Internationals who are staying in Groningen and feeling lonely can turn to the UG. ‘We can imagine that the current situation can lead to a loss of social contact or even to isolation for international students’, the UG wrote.

Student who need a sympathetic ear can turn to their study adviser, the Student Service Centre, or Marjolein Renker, the UG confidential adviser (050-3635435 or

You can also go to All Ears, an initiative by UG staff. All Ears offers students the possibility to talk to each other ‘in these uncertain times’. The normal office hours have been replaced by phone calls, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from two to four o’clock.

You can send an email to info@allearsgroningen and you will get an appointment. You can also fill out the contact form on the website:

march 18 2020

New dilemmas

Working from home has its drawbacks. Since our homes are much smaller than the UG buildings, we don’t move around as much. It might be a good idea to take an extra walk around the block.

march 17 2020

Students applaud for healthcare workers

Applaud to put an end to corona! The thirteen girls sharing a student house in the Zwanestraat enthusiastically participated in the campaign Tuesday evening.

They started cheering out of their open windows at exactly 8 p.m. and were soon joined by many others in the street. The applause took place all over the country. For three minutes, people clapped for everyone working in healthcare combatting the virus.

march 17 2020

Medical students volunteer

UG medical students have set up a platform to link healthcare institutes with students who want to volunteer.

More than two hundred students signed up at the website in just a few hours. Several healthcare institutes have contacted volunteers to put them to work.

march 17 2020

Was it smart to stay in Groningen?

Many international students have returned to their homelands. Residents at the Upsilon flat in the Antaresstraat say only a quarter of them remain in the building.

‘The panic that ensued when the lockdown was announced was contagious’, says student Aitana López. ‘Everyone started packing and leaving or making plans to leave. It made me question whether staying in Groningen was really the right idea.’

Read more ⇨

march 17 2020

Student hospitality sector extra affected

Hospitality businesses that are largely dependent on the patronage of students have been struck by the lockdown. They can’t always make the switch to delivery.

‘It’s hard to come to terms with. Two days ago, we were packed’, says The Smooth Brothers owner Yama Masoud.

Read more ⇨

march 17 2020

Law faculty warns judicial economics students

The Faculty of Law has sent an e-mail to students who possibly attended a judicial law seminar on March 6 and lectures for the course on March 9 and 11.

According to the faculty, one of the students who was there presented symptoms that indicate they are infected with the coronavirus. They don’t know for certain, since not everyone is getting tested. The faculty board says it’s therefore all the more important to follow the RIVM guidelines.

march 16 2020

Babysitting interns help out health care workers

Now that the schools have closed, health care professionals who have children are in trouble. Medical students Hannah, Isa, Manon, and Rianne have set up Oppasassisten Groningen to help out by babysitting. It’s working; people have signed up for the service in droves.

They got the idea when they all got together on Saturday for a game night. ‘We’re all interns at hospitals in the area, but because of the coronavirus we were suddenly stuck at home’, says Hannah.

Hannah, Isa, Manon en Rianne at work.

march 16 2020

What about the exam week?

It’s unclear what impact the corona measures will have on the exam week. The university’s crisis team is working overtime to keep educational and research activities going.

The lockdown will last until at least April 10 and will impact the exam period, which starts on March 23. Are the exams still on? If they are, how will they be administered? What about potential study delays people might suffer?

‘Those are exactly the kind of questions we’re currently trying to answer’, says UG spokesperson Jorien Bakker. The university hopes to be able to say more later in the week.

Read more ⇨

UG on lockdown

All the UG buildings in the city centre and at Zernike campus shut down on Monday. Only the most essential departments will continue to operate.

The first online classes started on Monday and everyone is doing their best to make it work, even if it takes a while to get the hang of things. Almost everyone is working from home.

Read more ⇨

march 12 2020

No classes

All physical classes and exams at the UG are cancelled from March 13 to at least April 10. Whenever possible, classes and exams will be put online.

Read more ⇨

Show less news

‘People often think I have cancer’

Student Tristan raps about his alopecia

‘People often think I have cancer’

On his new single Kaal (‘Bald’), Tristan Hofman bares both his soul and his skin. Due to alopecia, he has no hair, and he’s not ashamed of that anymore. ‘I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this three years ago.’
By Sisi van Halsema / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen
30 October om 10:11 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:18 uur.
October 30 at 10:11 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:18 PM.

It’s a cool little reggaeton track you could hear playing at any club on a Saturday night. But anyone who is familiar with business student and rapper Tristan Hofman, aka Solus, knows his new single Kaal has deeper meaning.  

It started when he was six: when she was cutting his hair, Tristan’s mother noticed he had a little bald spot on the back of his head. She knew what it was. Tristan’s grandfather had also suffered from alopecia universalis, a condition that makes your hair fall out. His father had it as well, but his hair eventually grew back. Tristan wasn’t as fortunate: by the time he was ten years old, he was completely bald. 

Now, at twenty-two, he’s a perfectly self-assured young man. But it’s taken him a while to get there. ‘High school wasn’t an easy time for me. Puberty is rough at the best of times and especially when you have a condition like this that just messes with your confidence.’ He skipped school a lot to escape the bullying. ‘I missed more than four hundred hours and I was a total video game addict.’ 

Creams and pills

There is no cure for alopecia. ‘I had a hard time accepting baldness as my reality. I tried everything — creams, pills — but nothing helped.’ 

When he was eighteen, Tristan made up his mind. Though he never wore a wig like his grandfather had, he did always cover his head with a bandanna. ‘Then, I just reached that point where I didn’t want to hide anymore’, he says. ‘New Year’s Eve was a great opportunity to get rid of my bandanna. As the clock struck twelve, I threw it into the fire. My whole family was there. A new year, new opportunities, and a new Tristan.’    

His move to Groningen was also a new start. ‘A lot of people make assumptions. They often think I’ve got cancer. What I don’t like is when they don’t ask me what’s going on. But in Groningen people are so direct that they just come up and ask me why I’m bald.’ 

And now he’s put out Kaal, the final step in his journey of self-acceptance. ‘I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this three years ago’, says Tristan. 

The track spontaneously came together during a session with fellow rapper De Kees, at his good friend Olivier’s studio. ‘The three of us went into the studio for a night of fun. We didn’t plan on making anything. At one point we had this rhythm, and Olivier started saying stuff on the beat: “This guy is bald, bald, bald.” And that somehow became a track.’ 


Balder than Humberto
We’re harder than metal 

Kaal is full of self-mockery. ‘It’s not some sensitive track about my life with alopecia’, Tristan explains. ‘I didn’t want it to be too serious. You have to be able to laugh at yourself.’ 

Humour is a theme in his music: a year ago, he and XO Nomit put out the track Studi, about DUO and study debt. ‘I want to mix things you already know about with stuff you might not think works with it. Kaal is a fun little pop song with something extra.’ 

Tristan has no aspirations to make it big. ‘But we did say it would be really cool if they played the track at the Negende Cirkel. And I’d love for other people with alopecia to see me making a fool of myself on stage, while still having fun. I’d love it if that made them realise they don’t have to be ashamed.’ 

Scary stories are good for you

How can you stimulate healthy living?

Scary stories are good for you

If you want young people to smoke or drink less, your best bet is to tell them a scary story about the horrific effects of tobacco and alcohol and make it star someone their age.
By Christien Boomsma / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen
30 September om 11:32 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:17 uur.
September 30 at 11:32 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:17 PM.

Her boyfriend would often shudder whenever he walked into the room and saw the pictures on the computer screen. ‘Can’t you go study something else?’ he’d ask.  

His reaction isn’t surprising, since most of the time Joëlle Ooms would be looking at pictures showing the effects of smoking. Or she’d be looking at skin cancer. Her screen would fill with images of horrific surgeries, blackened lungs, or skin tumours. ‘The pictures I looked really were quite gross. But I was looking at them through my research glasses, to see if I could use them.’ 

Fear appeals

Communication exper Ooms was working on a study of scary stories in the health sector. She already knew that a good story can lead to people changing their behaviour to examine their breasts or testicles for tumours, and that scary messages worked as well. But no one had studied whether a combination of the two – scary stories – were effective in any way. She will receive her PhD for her research on October 17.

‘I looked at the effect of so-called fear appeals or testimonials. Stories of people’s experiences like you read in magazines’, says Ooms. ‘Like about women who didn’t get a mammogram and who now have breast cancer.’ 

People have to identify with the protagonist

Ooms also wanted to know if these fear appeals had to be textual. ‘I wanted to know whether images would work as well. They’re much more effective in campaigns where you want to hang posters.’ 

What’s important in these stories is the concept of ‘transportation’; people should get sucked into the story and want to know how it ends. ‘Otherwise people will just stop watching.’ So how does one accomplish this? 


For that, the stories have to make people identify with the protagonist. People are really good at identifying with other people, Ooms explains. ‘Take a film like Wall-E for example. It’s so cute! And even though people know it’s not real and it’s just a stupid little robot, they still want him to be okay.’ 

Scary stories are used in a myriad of ways, she says. For instance, in campaigns to reduce fireworks accidents, where people talk about how they lost fingers or eyes to dangerous fireworks, or a campaign to make traffic safer, where someone is shown hitting a child because he’s driving too fast on a residential street. But it’s still unclear which factors actually make the message hit home and make people change their ingrained bad behaviours.

Young people are fairly egotistical, only thinking about themselves

So Ooms went looking for suitable scary stories to show to her test subjects. It wasn’t easy: the stories couldn’t be too long or too short. They had to be personal stories, as well as believable. ‘And I’m not a writer!’ 

Ultimately, she found a testimonial about a man with testicular cancer in a British magazine that met her criteria. She adapted and translated it, doing the same for stories about breast cancer and skin cancer. Finally, she found some pictures that showed the effects of smoking. She then showed these to her test subjects.


She noticed that young people were mainly transported into the story and able to identify with the protagonist if the story starred one of their peers. ‘They were transported more and showed more emotion’, says Ooms. Interestingly enough, older test subjects responded differently. For them, it didn’t matter whether the protagonist was a peer; they were also transported into stories with younger protagonists, and were able to identify with them as well. So what’s the deal? 

Ooms can only speculate. ‘Maybe it’s because older people remember what it was like when they were young. Also, young people are fairly egotistical, only thinking about themselves.’ The protagonist’s gender had no discernible effect on the test subjects.


The same processes occurred when Ooms used images rather than stories. She showed people an image of two sad people next to a coffin, with the text ‘smoking can harm your unborn child’ superimposed over it. ‘People identify with the people in the picture, and they’re transported as well.’ 

This knowledge could be used to tailor campaigns to specific audiences. Ooms says it’s better to use a young person than an old one. It’s been proved to reach a wider audience. And if you want to use posters, you can just print the scary story so people can read it.

Post-doc Fabiola wants to save the environment in style

‘It’s like Airbnb for fashion’, Fabiola Polli says of her eco-friendly marketplace Chicfashic.

A new platform for sustainable clothing

Post-doc Fabiola wants to save the environment in style

Fabiola Polli has two passions: science and sustainable clothing. Her love for science led her to a PhD in synthetic biology at the RUG, and later, a post-doc. In her spare time, she helps other people appreciate the potential of previously loved clothes with her new ‘green platform’ Chicfashic.
By Ayla Pollmann
23 September om 14:09 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:17 uur.
September 23 at 14:09 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:17 PM.

Fabiola Polli grew up in Rome, the city of fashion. Her mum and sister were seamstresses, and so Fabiola has always believed that clothes should be recreated, repaired, and exchanged. ‘I always saw the beauty in secondhand clothes.’

But Chicfashic is not just about enjoying the clothes, says Fabiola. It’s also about raising awareness and creating community. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and clothing production often relies on exploitative salaries and dangerous working conditions for workers.

Renting clothes

Fabiola wanted to build a platform that would fundamentally change our approach to clothes in Groningen by finding ways to make the clothes we have last longer and reducing the production of new clothes. ‘It’s like Airbnb for fashion’, Fabiola explains. ‘It’s an eco-friendly marketplace where clothes can be rented or sold at low prices.’

RUG students with small bank accounts will benefit the most from Chicfashic, where they can even rent single-use pieces like skiing gear and ballgowns. ‘Thanks to the low cost of buying or renting clothes, Chicfashic makes it possible to change your style every day and be a different person any time you please’, says Fabiola. ‘Today, a punk rocker; tomorrow, a businessman.’


Fabiola has tried to engineer community-building into her platform as well. To rent or buy an item, you reach out to the seller personally. The next step is meeting up in person for the exchange – an opportunity for users to get know each other and share their ideas about sustainability, says Fabiola.

In order to educate others about the dangers of fast fashion, she and her team of volunteers are offering free monthly workshops. ‘I want people to know that we can fix things, and experience pride and happiness by doing so.’

‘Deplatforming’ and Paul Cliteur

The discussion concerning Paul Cliteur’s impending speech in Groningen got pretty heated this week. Cliteur himself lashed out against the academics in the UKrant, and philosophy students Justin Warners and Thomas Krabbenbos wrote us open letters about the matter.


Paul Cliteur

‘I insult absolutely nobody’ – Interview

Paul Cliteur (Forum voor Democratie) will be giving a guest lecture during the Night of Philosophy on Friday. We asked the FvD top figure five questions. ‘No-platforming is based on the principle of political manipulation.’


Justin Warners

‘Who’s the one deplatforming around here?’ – Opinion

Last week, FvD front man wrote an open letter to the RUG, after students and lecturers wondered whether Cliteur should be allowed to speak during the Night of Philosophy. Student Justin Warners responds with a letter of his own.’

Thomas Krabbenbos

‘UKrant “deplatformed” Lenz’ – Opinion

If the discussion around Martin Lenz and Paul Cliteur isn’t represented properly, it’s all too easy to say that everyone should be heard, philosophy student Thomas Krabbenbos says. He focuses to the essence of the matter.’

Book Week: What do prominent RUG employees read?

It’s national Book Week in the Netherlands! Need a tip? This week, prominent RUG employees tell us about their favourite book. Click on the button under each picture for the complete interview; we’ll be adding a new tip every day.
By Mella Fuchs

RUG poet Sofia Manouki


‘It’s not the kind of war memoir that leaves you shell-shocked and dazed.’

Teacher of the Year Marc Kramer

Thinking, fast and slow

‘The book has given me great insight into myself and people in general.’

Head of the UB Marjolein Nieboer

The Hours

‘This book made me realise that everyone’s lives, no matter who they are or when they lived, are really interesting.’

Heroes of UKrant: a puppy to de-stress

The University of Amsterdam started a puppy room, to help students de-stress during exams. The UB in Groningen won’t hear of doing the same, yet. Time for the ‘Heroes of UKrant’ and our break-out star, labradoodle pup Nova.
Video by Robbert Andringa

First night in the tent camp

Rafel Fernandez (27), a Master’s student from Barcelona, is vlogging about life in the ACLO tent camp. See how his Tuesday went.
Video by Rafel Fernandez and Lidian Boelens
In the video we said Mehdi is from Mumbai, but that’s not correct. Actually, he is from Dubai.

Protection Racket

Abandoned as an infant high in the mountains of Colorado, James was taken in and raised by a family of marmots. They trained him in the art of satire, but warned him: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ He didn’t understand the truth of their words until his adopted rodent brother, Donald Trump’s hair, turned to the dark side.

James could only sit by and watch, helpless and appalled, as his evil brother meme’d his way to the White House. Forever changed by what he had seen, James fled to The Netherlands and vowed to always use his powers for good.

Last week it was announced that the board of Vindicat would not be receiving this year’s committee grants. The disciplinary measure comes in response to several infractions, including an unreported incident at the Vindicat building wherein a student was beaten up by several others.

The university hopes that denying the grants will be enough to cause the organisation to come to their senses, but Vindicat leadership has reportedly been unperturbed. At a press conference last week they announced plans to make back the money.

‘After the enormous success of our trial period last year with sushi mall, we at Vindicat are proud to announce the official launch of our protection racket,’ said former rector Stijn Derksen. ‘There are plenty of nice businesses in Groningen, and it would really be a shame if something were to happen to them.’

Vindicat claims that they alone are in the position to protect the businesses of Groningen from the threats they face on a daily basis.

‘And this system, works, folks,’ continued Derksen. ‘We’re providing a valuable service. Just look at sushi mall. We were partnered with them last year in order to conduct market research, and the very same week they decided they didn’t need our protection any more, their restaurant got absolutely trashed.’

Growing an Empire

Squads of Vindicat members have been out in force. Hundreds of businesses and institutions around Groningen, including the Ukrant itself have been solicited to buy into the scheme.

We were hesitant at first, but the cricket bats and lead pipes they presented as evidence were remarkably convincing.

Send help.

Sustainable Groningen

Abandoned as an infant high in the mountains of Colorado, James was taken in and raised by a family of marmots. They trained him in the art of satire, but warned him: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ He didn’t understand the truth of their words until his adopted rodent brother, Donald Trump’s hair, turned to the dark side.

James could only sit by and watch, helpless and appalled, as his evil brother meme’d his way to the White House. Forever changed by what he had seen, James fled to The Netherlands and vowed to always use his powers for good.

The king visited Groningen last week, where he saw demonstrations of sustainable technology in the Grote Markt. Meanwhile, thousands of people drank beers out of disposable plastic cups.

The city prides itself on its sustainability, and it’s just that eco-mindedness that allowed party-goers to reconcile their consciences with using every plastic cup in the North.

‘We told everyone not to worry about it!’ said an organiser. ‘What’s the point of being eco-friendly all the time if you don’t get to let loose once in a while? It’s like a cheat day on a diet.’

And let loose they did. Groningers are estimated to have drunk more than two million beers during the celebration. Each conveniently served in an individual plastic cup.

The Grind Begins Again

‘Alright everyone, it’s been fun, but if we want to do this again next year we have to go back to the usual,’ organizers reminded the city after the Kingsday celebrations came to a close, ‘sorting our trash and turning off the lights when we leave the room and whatnot.’

It’s a high price to pay, but as people walked home over roads paved with rubbish they knew it was worth it.

‘It’s just like the king said: “Other cities talk about throwing a party, Groningen actually does it”,’ said a satisfied and slightly drunk reveler. ‘I’ve kept the thermostat turned down for the past three weeks so I’d be able to sleep tonight. It was hard, but it’s liberating to be able to throw stuff on the ground without feeling bad.’

No one’s really sure what will become of all that trash, but the city would certainly like everyone to think they recycled it.

Homeless Students’ Hopes Dashed

Abandoned as an infant high in the mountains of Colorado, James was taken in and raised by a family of marmots. They trained him in the art of satire, but warned him: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ He didn’t understand the truth of their words until his adopted rodent brother, Donald Trump’s hair, turned to the dark side.

James could only sit by and watch, helpless and appalled, as his evil brother meme’d his way to the White House. Forever changed by what he had seen, James fled to The Netherlands and vowed to always use his powers for good.

‘We were starting to lose hope,’ said one student. ‘The only light we’d had in the darkness was last month when Vindicat offered to let students sleep in their treasure vault. When that just turned out to be them trying to make us fight each other for money it was starting to feel like people weren’t taking this issue seriously. Then the tent started going up and we thought someone finally cared.’

Students’ spirits were rekindled prematurely, however, as the massive, cozy-looking tent being erected in the Grote Markt turned out to be for a music festival.

‘We were devastated,’ said another student.

Preliminary estimates place the amount of money spent on the festival right around ‘a lot’, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the city’s population of homeless students.

‘I’m sure they got plenty of sponsorship revenue to offset the costs,’ said Billy Billson, a homeless undergraduate student. ‘But why couldn’t they have sponsored a dorm? Like, put some ads up in the windows or something.’

Feeling dejected, students organised a protest during the festival. Unfortunately the protest was mistaken for a mosh pit, and the students’ voices were drowned out by drunken revelers joining in.

Police stop Pursuit

Abandoned as an infant high in the mountains of Colorado, James was taken in and raised by a family of marmots. They trained him in the art of satire, but warned him: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ He didn’t understand the truth of their words until his adopted rodent brother, Donald Trump’s hair, turned to the dark side.

James could only sit by and watch, helpless and appalled, as his evil brother meme’d his way to the White House. Forever changed by what he had seen, James fled to The Netherlands and vowed to always use his powers for good.

‘It was really fortunate that the suspect called to tell us he didn’t do it’, said the police chief, who issued the order to call off the search this past Wednesday. ‘(It) saved us a lot of trouble. Most of the time we have to actually catch them and have a trial to figure out if they’re innocent or not.’

The former suspect, who was seen by multiple people stabbing shoppers outside Albert Heijn last year was reportedly aghast to discover that the police had been looking for him.

‘It was horrible to find out that they thought I’d stabbed all those people’, said the former suspect while showing Ukrant reporters his large collection of knives. ‘Really I was doing, uh, other stuff. Definitely not that.’

The former suspect, who coincidentally donated a large sum of money to the police department a few months ago, said that the entire issue was just a big misunderstanding. While the police thought that he had used a knife to stab multiple people on the street, what actually happened was that he used a medium sized metal implement to randomize a small area on the bodies of several organisms whilst they went about their daily routines.

‘It’s completely different’, said the police chief. ‘Obviously.’

Several detectives disagreed, however, and were fired for creating a hostile work environment.

‘The guy clearly stabbed those people’, said one of the detectives. ‘We even have it on video. I’m astounded that all it took was a phone call for the chief to call off the search.’

There is no News

Abandoned as an infant high in the mountains of Colorado, James was taken in and raised by a family of marmots. They trained him in the art of satire, but warned him: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ He didn’t understand the truth of their words until his adopted rodent brother, Donald Trump’s hair, turned to the dark side.

James could only sit by and watch, helpless and appalled, as his evil brother meme’d his way to the White House. Forever changed by what he had seen, James fled to The Netherlands and vowed to always use his powers for good.

Everything in the Netherlands seems flat in comparison to the ongoing literal dumpster fire that is the United States

The recent indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates has left a local columnist feeling like nothing in the Netherlands is interesting any more. It isn’t run by an orange man-baby, upper level government employees probably aren’t involved in any massive money laundering operations, and there aren’t even any mass shootings.

‘It’s so boring’, lamented the columnist. ‘At least there was that weirdo Geert that I could make fun of, but really he’s just a budget Alex Jones or Sean Hannity.’

The columnist has reportedly used humor as an emotional defense mechanism for most of his life, and now, here in the Netherlands there’s nothing to defend against. There may be a madman running his country, but that’s on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. He wakes up every morning feeling comforted by the knowledge that the leaders of the Netherlands don’t think that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese (Trump actually said this).

Americans still without power in the devastated Puerto Rico can take comfort in the fact that the overcooked roast of a president that abandoned them may at any moment drop dead of a heart attack because he hasn’t exercised since college. He actually believes that the human body is like a battery and when you run out of energy you die.

How is a certain local columnist supposed to make fun of anything here in boring old Groningen when things like that are actually. Really. Happening. FOR. REAL. IN. THE. US? TRUMP JUST SAID TO THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER THAT HE ‘DIDN’T KNOW THERE WERE SO MANY COUNTRIES’. aaaAAAHHHHH!


In other news, Ben Feringa, who is the biggest deal ever, just did something to do with chemistry, and did you hear that he won a Nobel prize last year? Geert Wilders, Moroccans, homeless international students living in tents, deep fried food, censorship, Yantai, Yantai, Yantai.



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.

Last Thursday, the UK reported that the RUG had spent a total of 700,000 euros on the preparations for the much debated branch campus in Yantai, China. This article had to be updated only a few hours later or, rather, substantially corrected.

Upon closer inspection, the 700,000 euros turned out to only have been for this year, and not for 2015 (when the plans for Yantai were launched), 2016, and 2017 combined. Altogether, the preparation costs come to more than two million euros, more than twice the amount the university had estimated and announced earlier.

So how did this somewhat messy piece of reporting come about? It started with a rather unclear message from the Board of Directors at a University Council meeting, in response to a question about how much the RUG had spent on the preparations for Yantai.

While many (ourselves including) understood the stated figure to be the total amount, it was only later clarified that it only pertained to this year. And so the original article had to be overhauled.

It’s one of the advantages of online journalism. When the UK was still a printed newspaper – how long ago it seems – readers had to wait a week for updates, clarifications and/or corrections (no one is infallible, neither us nor our sources). But now we can implement changes with a snap of our fingers.

But we feel it’s important to be clear about it when we make these changes. So when it happens, and hopefully it won’t happen often, we indicate that in our articles with [UPDATE]. We don’t do that with any odd spelling mistake or a badly written sentence, but only when a substantial change has been made.

Speaking of Yantai: the UK is joining a large RUG delegation on a visit to China. Depending on the time available (which might be difficult due to the full schedule), I will be reporting from Yantai, or at least immediately after my return. Preferably without an [UPDATE].

Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief

Higher education voted green

If it was up to voters from the Dutch universities of applied sciences and research universities, D66 and GroenLinks would have more than half the seats in the Lower House.
By Rob Siebelink / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Combined, the big three parties on the right (VVD – The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy; PVV -The Freedom Party; and the CDA – Christian Democratic Appeal) received no more than 24 per cent of the vote, according to a survey done by the Erasmus Magazine for the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

During the Lower House elections on 15 March, nearly every university of applied sciences and research university had at least one polling station. Because these locations were mainly used by students and university employees, they show a pretty clear picture of higher education’s political landscape.

A quick study of the election results at nine research universities and three universities of applied sciences shows that D66 (Democrats ‘66) and GroenLinks (GreenLeft) received most of the votes by far (31 and 25 per cent, respectively). Altogether, that would have amounted to 84 seats in the Lower House.


The conservative parties did a lot worse among university voters: they would have had no more than 38 seats based on votes cast at institutions of higher education. The VVD is fairly far behind with just 17 per cent, while the CDA (5), PVV (2), Forum for Democracy (2) and SGP (Reformed Political Party, 0.3) played no significant role. The socialists were not very popular either, as the Labour Party (4 per cent) and the Socialist Party (3) experienced.

There were also noticeable differences between the research universities and the universities of applied sciences. D66 and GroenLinks did better at research universities than in universities of applied sciences, whereas the VVD, SP, CDA, PVV, and especially Denk received fewer votes.

Feringa in Yantai?

According to Chinese media, the RUG’s Nobel Prize-winning professor Ben Feringa will take the lead at the university’s applied chemistry programme in China. But Feringa himself says that the article is putting words in his mouth.
By Traci White

When approached by the UK for a response to the article, professor Feringa summarily dismissed it.

‘Much to my surprise, I read in a Chinese publication that “as a professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, Professor Feringa will lead the construction of the Department of Applied Chemistry, one of the first four undergraduate programs at the University of Groningen in Yantai”‘, he says.

‘I think it’s rather odd that someone would quote me as saying something I never said’, Feringa asserts. ‘I was asked by one person about Yantai, and all that I said was that the University of Groningen was planning to open a campus in Yantai’, Feringa says. ‘I am not involved in the plans in any way, so I didn’t say anything about it. It’s utter nonsense.’

‘No official opinion’

The chemistry bachelor is currently included on the list of RUG programmes that should eventually be offered in China, but Feringa says that he personally has no ‘official opinion’ on the university’s plans for a branch campus in Asia.

The claim that the professor would be involved in the Yantai campus comes from an article published on the website of the Qilu Evening News, an evening paper based in the province of Shandong, which is where the city of Yantai is located.

Although Feringa has yet to make any public remarks about working on the campus in China, one of his fellow Nobel chemistry laureates – Fraser Stoddard – has been a guest professor at Tianjin University where he has developed a lab for molecular synthesis research.