The storming of the Bastille

Scrambling through the mud, conquering slippery inflatable obstacles and climbing to the top of the Bastille: it’s all worth it for prospective students looking to fully enjoy student life at the University of Twente. The storming of the Bastille building is one of the highlights of the induction period.

The introduction period at the University of Twente has been called by many names over the years – Introduction, IK and Kick-In – and has consistently been the longest induction period in the Netherlands. The first Introduction even lasted a full two weeks! Other universities delegate their initiation activities to student clubs, but there were no such clubs in Twente when the Technische Hogeschool Twente (‘Twente Technical College’) was founded, so the responsibility fell to the college itself. The administration decided to pass on that responsibility to the students, in the hope that an induction period would boost campus cohesion. The task of the Introduction Committee was simple: ‘Forge a horde into a whole’ (in Dutch, ‘Maak van een troep een groep’).

Many of the activities introduced when Technische Hogeschool Twente was new are still features of today’s Kick-In: the programme still includes a sports day and the first-years (in the past they were called ‘sons’; now they’re ‘kiddos’) are put into groups led by older students (now ‘parents’; earlier generations were ‘dads and granddads’). A lot of the activities reflect the transition from school pupil to university student, and whereas in 1967 first-years would ritually bury their ‘former selves’ before student life really got going, now they face the final challenge of storming the Bastille.

The name of this event of course alludes to the historic Storming of the Bastille in Paris, on 14 July 1789. Just as the invasion of the mediaeval prison fortress is seen as the starting point of the French Revolution – a period of change – the reenactment of this event at the Bastille building in Twente marks the start of a time of change for the invaders.

No one can say for sure when the obstacle course was added, but over the years the storming of the Bastille has become a fixture of the induction programme. The course begins on the Carillonveld and the prospective students must then climb, slide, crawl and scramble their way through the mud until they reach their goal: the Bastille building. Every last drenched, filthy student is proud to cross that finish line. The obstacle course creates an amazing sense of solidarity among the group: it does indeed forge the horde into a whole.

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