A first version, a collaboration between the Reunion committee and the Archive committee, appeared in the 1990/91 Annual. This is a newer version, which was altered to improve clarity and coherence of the text, and to take advantage of the knowledge of many former members, who turned up at the last reunion.
Despite all this, the following account is far from complete. Especially the history of S2 before 1960 remains shrouded in mystery. Where A-E left us a large collection of yearly reports, material pertaining to S2 is scarce indeed. Most of the knowledge we do have on the subject comes from the memories of aforementioned former members. Anyone who knows more is more than welcome to contact us. Please send any information you may have toArchiefcommissie
The Bijlhouwerstraat lies somewhere in the south side of Utrecht, where the Kromme Rijn splits up into the Stadsbuitensingel and the Oudegracht. In 1928, the Laboratory for Physics, one of the Utrecht University's buildings, stood there. According to legend, the resident students (candidates) who operated there felt somewhat discriminated against. They were often used by teachers and staff members as human dishwashers and measurement tools, a separation persisting even on the work floor. Discontent with the situation, the candidates grouped together for support. As a result, on May 4th, 1928, S2 was founded at Hotel Noord-Brabant, thanks to mr. Baars' initiative.
According to some, the letters making up the name stand for the Dutch phrase "Samen Slimmer", or "Smarter Together". Mrs. van Cittert-Eymers, a founding member of S2, agrees with this particular translation. Another common explanation for the letters is the phrase "Samen Studeren", or "Study Together". It has been debunked that the name actually stands for the initials of member "Simon Stevin". Certainty about the letters' meaning has been lost in the fifties; most likely, this will remain one of A-Eskwadraat's biggest mysteries.
At this point in time, S2 is not a study association just yet, but more of a study group for the candidates. Every fortnight, the members gather to attend a lecture. The lectures center mostly around physics, and are delivered by the group's members. Foreign guests are invited to the lectures as well.
January 1929, the members decide to officially turn S2 into a study association, with its own laws (as defined in the Charter) and a board. The founding board contains Mr. Baars and Mrs. Eymers. The association is very closely related to its study - up until the Second World War, even astronomers aren't allowed in. Even alterations to the Charter have an air of science over them. (Example of Charter law omitted, since laws can't be translated accurately. Its meaning: two out of three members a prospective member is introduced to have to agree with his/her entry.)
The members continue giving lectures, that still remained the backbone of S2, and magazines are circulated within its ranks. The association also starts organizing excursions with a very festive character; an excursion to Brussels is organized to celebrate the first lustrum in 1933, and reportedly, the celebration exceeded the attendants' expectations. Also, a party is hosted once a year in Maison Schmitz, which doesn't resemble the concept of a party we're familiar with at all. A more accurate fit would be an open-mic night, where people sing, perform, make music and demonstrate Indian dances. Whether S2 and A-E, founded in 1934, had had contacts during this time, remains unknown. The separation between candidates and non-candidates was apparently too big for them to work together just yet.
When the Second World War breaks out in 1940, S2's financial means are donated to the National Aid Committee. Activities continue, but on a somewhat smaller scale. The study association is temporarily disbanded in 1942.
On the 17th of May 1934, the non-candidates (or pre-candidates) unite as well. (A close approximation to this terminology is "freshman student".) The founding document was written by the first treasurer, F.J. Mol. The origin of the letters A-E is well known, luckily: in the Academic Statutes, the letters A through E were used in a list describing exams on scientific subjects (mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc.).
What motivated these students to form a study association? We can't say for certain. Perhaps a contributing factor was the founding of a new study major in Delft, called Technical (or Theoretical) Physics. This drove Utrecht University to change, in order to compete, and Professor Ornstein was given the task to implement the necessary changes. Under the highly theoretical and experimental physicist's influence, the study in Utrecht got a more theoretical side to it. New special positions open up, that are occupied by professors closely associated with business. It's possible that Ornstein motivated his students to unite, to form a front against the technical physicists from Delft and to get to know the business side of things.
Either way, the study association A-E finds its place in the Laboratory for Physics. It has approximately fifty members in the years before the Second World War. For some, A-E is a good substitute for the more fraternity-like groups, like the Corps, Unitas or Veritas, that consume a lot of its members' time. The life at A-E is limited to its monthly meetings, where a member provides a lecture. Three times per year, an excursion to a company is organized. Its members finance the association's expenses, meaning they had no support provided to them by the faculty. However, the occasional international trip can be financed with support from companies.
About twenty new students arrive every year, that become members for a single gulden (Dutch pre-euro currency). Students remain A-E members for two years. In those first two years of college, classes are attended concerning the basics of physics and mathematics. After that, students stay at home to study for the candidate exam. Many physically move from Utrecht as well, and most pass on A-E membership. After passing the candidate exam, students can become a member of S2.
The events in Germany and the rest of Europe do not go unnoticed. Many male students are called to serve military duty for half a year. Calls to mobilize soon follow. All these events add up to about one-and-a-half years of interruption.
Just like S2, A-E remains active until 1942. This isn't exactly an easy feat. To host meetings for more that twenty people, the members had to get permission from the Amsterdam General Prosecutor. To be allowed to meet, they have to sign a declaration stating the meeting will not be political in nature, the Rector Magnificus has to approve, and the meeting's minutes have to be set to Amsterdam afterwards. Organizing excursions becomes more difficult as well. After 1942, the association is temporarily suspended. This is probably related to the new requirement for all citizens to fill out an Aryan declaration (declaring personal descent). Around the same time, the large student associations temporarily disappear from the Utrecht landscape.
Immediately after the end of the war, the organizations return from their suspension. Starting September 1945, A-E organizes member assemblies alongside its lectures and excursions. Led by P.M. Endt, S2 is reinstated as well, now also open to astronomy students.
A dialogue is maintained with the Faculty of Philosophy, which are part of the Utrecht Student Faculties (USF). Before the war, student associations each had their own society per subject, the Corps being the first and foremost one, that were united in the Faculties of Philosophy. These Faculties play to the scientific interests of their members by hosting lectures with foreign speakers and excursions. A national organization brings in several foreign scientists every year, to give a lecture in every city with a university, hosted by the Faculties. Naturally, when it came to speakers in the fields of mathematics and physics, A-E and S2 were contacted for help.
Although many A-E members attend the lectures, the Corps' pervasive atmosphere in the Faculty of Philosophy caused a little too much friction. The situation improves when all of Utrecht's Faculties of Philosophy join forces, and form a cluster in the USF.
After the war, both associations discover the overlap in activities between them. Assemblies for both associations are held, leading to combined excursions, and a large-scale combined event called the Philosophic Games.
Around this time, the A-E social community blossoms. Thirty to forty members attend every regularly scheduled lecture. Introductory assemblies are held for the new freshman students in October, where the goal, the purpose and the social rules of A-E are explained. The rest of the assembly is more traditional, however.
The Member assemblies usually take place in a lecture hall in the Laboratory of Physics, although they do sometimes relocate to the University House and the Mathematical Institute. Before the actual assembly, a speaker discusses a current scientific topic. The lectures are before the actual assembly for a very practical reason; since the minutes from the previous assembly are hand-written and they can't be distributed easily amongst the members, the ab actis (formal function) has to read the previous minutes aloud. A-E wanted to save the speaker from having to sit through that particular torture.
A-E is very attached to its traditions. Discussions are minutely structured, though not entirely serious. Board members are expected to attend assemblies formally dressed. Compare that to S2, where board members show up in a barf suit (loosely translated term. A suit that is supposed to be anything but formal). During one of S2's assemblies, they decide to construct a system of coffee-carrying ducts throughout the Physics Lab.
S2 institutes the Jaap Koning Fund around this time, to support needy board members. The fund is created in 1952 when mr. Jaap Koning quarrels with the S2 financial department, and refuses to pay his contribution for that year. To prevent any financial difficulties for the association, he instead pays the contribution in full as a donation. On the evening of February 21st, a letter from the ab-actis members (financial department/treasurers) is delivered to his house, containing the following passage:
It is my duty to inform you of your dismissal as a S2 member, as decided during the 285th assembly.
This shouldn't come as a surprise: as decided in the S2 statutes, Jaap Koning is dismissed as a member. However, a mere hour later, a second letter from the ab-actis members is delivered to his house:
It is my pleasure to inform you of your installment as an honorary member of S2, as decided during the 285th assembly. The board expresses its kind regards.
His honorary membership is a result of his donation to the association. The money donated by Koning forms the basis of the Jaap Koning Fund. During every subsequent assembly, an ash tray circulates for members to place a donation into; however, these donations rarely exceed a single penny. Donating a nickel is regarded as a very snooty move.
It's unclear what happened to the Fund. Its last mention is in the minutes of the 6th of December 1966 assembly, where the discussion is postponed due to the absence of its supervisors. The Fund is never heard of again.
The early fifties are a low point in the history of S2. Hardly any members want to show up to meetings anymore. In the academic year 1952-1953 the board of S2 proposes an increase in cooperation with A-E, potentially leading to a fusion.
The proposal is discussed during A-E's general assembly, on the 2nd of June 1953. The negotiations are described below in quite some detail. After the assembly's opening with a lecture by Prof. Dr. C de Jager on falling stars, a recess is called to allow the members to review the concept revisions to the Articles of Association and the Domestic Regulations, should the two associations merge.
After recess, praeses Van Genderen expands upon why a merger is being considered:
[...] lectures and excursions are basically the same thing anyway. Besides, more involvement between pre-candidates and candidates can be a positive influence on study results. And in the area of sports, cooperation has already garnered rewards. We suggest the merged association be called S2, since A-E isn't fitting, coming up with new names is difficult, S2 is a special name, and sticking to S2 has its advantages.
The board notes that, with the fusion pending, they have not yet taken care of their succession. At this point, the members are asked for their opinion. A discussion ensues regarding excursions for pre-candidates and candidates together. The 'new' name also raises questions:
Mr. Oppenheimer inquires about the meaning of the name S2. The praeses answers practically noone knows what it means, with the possible exception of its older members.
Subsequently, the revised Articles of Association and the Domestic Regulations are examined. The exact wording of various are discussed in depth, and seemingly without end. Eventually the decision is made to assemble again, in a week's time.
The second assembly of A-E takes place on the 9th of June, while S2 has assembled at the same time, in a different location altogether. Vice-preases Ullersma presides over the former. Before the debate proper starts, some time is spent on yearly reports. From the board's demeanor, it becomes apparent they consider the fusion a done deal. During a brief recess, the board of A-E places a call to S2, where the members have surprisingly spoken out against a merger. The candidates, led by J. Koning's proposal, are now considering
a kind of trial run for a year, during which collaboration would strongly increase, and after which the possibilities of a fusion can be determined. The week spent sailing, as organized by S2, would however remain a solitary activity, because the association's staff is involved in that.
At the same time, negative reactions arise amongst the members of A-E:
Mr. Terlouw believes a fusion would not be prudent; A-E can hold its own just fine, and he fails to understand how a flourishing association could merge with one on its hind legs. This plan was, after all, spearheaded by S2
The vice-praeses calls for a show of hands to gauge the assembly's opinion, but it's unclear what the exact question he wants answered. Chaos starts to spread:
The vice-praeses attempts to explain the situation again. Mr. Koedam [also a member of S2] notes that the suggested cooperation is not worded like that. Cooperation, instead of fusion, would be quite important: noone has ever spoken of fusion. The vice-preases wants to call a vote. Mr. van Lint thinks that would be illogical at this time, for something so definitive. Mr. Koedam remarks that this change was caused by the proposition of a member of S2. Mr. Terlouw remarks that this assembly was called to vote on a potential fusion, and now that there's been a telephonic chat with S2, the vice-praeses just disregards his point on the agenda.
The mayhem is complete. Members of A-E clearly disagree with the process so far.
Mr. Jager thinks a year-long fusion, followed by a split, is not worthy of A-E. [...He] has no desire to be a member of an association that has suspended itself for a year. [...] Mr. Terlouw analyses the situation, and disapproves with the board's attitude, that simply copies another's opinion. A-E should be more aware of its own value. The vice-abactis disagrees wholeheartedly. [...He] remarks this is simply a measurement of opinions. This is still just a proposal. Mr. Terlouw states that the vice-abactis has completely misunderstood his task as a board member. [...] Mr. Koedam requests a temporary dismissal of the assembly. The vice-abactis says that a matter such as this can't be solved in mere minutes. Mr. Koedam requests a vote on whether or not everyone should go home.
After accusations have been flung back and forth and noone can make sense of the matter anymore, the assembly is suspended, so the proposal can be discussed in smaller groups. During this suspension, the board of S2 makes an appearance to again shed light on the proposal. They even have an official spokesperson, Mr. Vos. The assembly draws close to its apotheosis:
The vice-praeses continues the assembly, after the board of S2 has been removed from behind the board's table by force. The point on the agenda is called to order, the vote on the fusion. The result:
[...] A point of order is raised wherein several members express their surprise at how S2, having proposed the fusion, have now dismissed the proposal in its own assembly. [...] Mr. van Haeringen asks why these guests believe they have the right to come by and drink wine in their midst. Vice-praeses replies that he considers the visit pleasant, as long as A-E doesn't have to pay for it. Mr. van Haeringen and Oppenheimer think this show of disregard is in bad taste. Mr. Vos believes it is not in bad taste to drink wine. Mrs. Hornix asks if a guest should have his host left dry. Vice-praeses states that there's no point to discussing wine. He wishes to get to the point, whether or not they will collaborate. [...] Mr. Jager requests the guests be sent home, now that the assembly knows their opinion. This request is met with thunderous applause, and the delegation of S2 leaves the room.
- pro: the board, five members.
- con: everyone else.
This seals the fate of all plans for fusion. The two associations would continue to exist alongside eachother for another eighteen years.
The fifties transition into the sixties. The world is headed for troublesome times, but for A-E and S2, nothing much changes. Activities are organized, assemblies are held, old commissions are released from duty and new ones are appointed. Yearly reports are recited and there's a lot of discussion. The candidates tend to focus on their law (the phrase Articles of Association causes resistance amongst the members).
At S2, new members are still installed at assemblies. Before the aspiring members are allowed in, they have to deliver a lecture on any of a wide variety of subjects. The metaphysical properties of the "beer particle" are discussed in great detail. Afterwards, the 'installandi' ("the installed ones") are informed of their rights and duties as members. After the assembly, members of S2 often repose at cafe De Poort ("The Gate"), where the other properties of the "beer particle" are thoroughly examined. The same cafe is host to S2's bridge drives.
It's almost impossible to write a coherent, chronological description of the sixties. Instead, the following chapters contain some characteristic events from within this decade.
A flourishing activity at A-E is the communal lunch. From the minutes of the annual assembly, October 1963:
This year, 23 lunches have taken place, during which 670 persons have consumed 240 breads and 180 litres of coffee. The surface area occupied by all prepared sandwiches would be approximately 70 square metres. Profit after taxes is a whopping 17 cents.
The lunch commission has brought plenty of joy to the members of A-E, quoth the praeses, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. The praeses shows the members present how the aforementioned sandwiches could cover the floor of the mess hall with bread to spare. This may provide Prof. Underhill with auditory insulation.
A short time after that, the lunches are moved, first to the Observatory, then to the new Transitorium I in the university district called the Uithof. Because the transitorium has its own cafetaria, lunches can simply be taken care of by the staff. Of course a financial manager still has to remain in charge to take care of the money. Therefore, in 1964:
The praeses requests the presence of Mr. K. van der Hucht, and installs him as the financial lunch manager at the strike of his hammer. Mrs. Frederik protests this decision, since Mr. van der Hucht is not (called) Hans. The praeses says her protest is somewhat premature, and renames the financial lunch manager Hans at another stroke of his hammer.
The beginning of another tradition? Not so much, because in 1965
Mr. van der Hucht asks what the manager's first name is. The praeses responds with "Wijnand". Mr. van der Hucht recalls an ancient tradition that every lunch manager is called Hans. He proposes a renaming ceremony. This proposal is dismissed by the praeses.
At the same time, the members are not satisfied with the new location:
[Mr. Heise] has remarked, that the atmosphere during current lunches is lame. Very few people show up. Others sit in the cafetaria as spectators with their own packed lunches. He recalls the lunches in the observatory, that he partook in himself. These were more freeform, members walked around more, the atmosphere was more pleasant, and the contact between members was far better. He proposes to come up with a way to allow members to walk around in the Transitoire as well.
That's why they decide in 1966 that
the financial lunch manager will gain under his command a team of lovely sandwich artistes.
So, does that settle things? Of course not:
[The sports commissioner] complains about how many members gorge themselves so excessively during the lunches, that their resulting corpulence prevents them from relaxing through sports.
On the 20th of November 1970, the commission manages to retrieve the dartboard and present it at the assembly, which results in the dissolution of the commission. A lot of attention is also paid to the game of soccer. Both A-E and S2 have a soccer team, although the players don't always show up. Occasionally, matches are organized, for example as a part of the Philosophical Games, that end poorly for A-E most of the time. In 1961 the pre-candidates lose by 8 to 4, in part because one of the defending players scores an own goal. In 1968, the match can't be organized because both teams play in different pools: the intersection between the collections of players is non-empty!
Mr. 't Hooft is suggested to serve as praeses. However, he desperately struggles against this decision: he only dares accepts this great responsibility with the aid of his regarded former board members. Mr. van Tuyll manages to dodge this heavy burden by migrating to the Hague, while Mr. van den Bongaert spontaneously offers to symbolically help out. He plans to do so by, for example, inputting the first number of the perpetrator's phone number to call him/her, co-signing a strongly worded letter to him/her, or even by writing the address on the envelope. To encourage his fellow board members, he might be willing to input two or even three (!) numbers, if an area code has to be included.
Mrs. Steffens adamantly refuses, after which Mr. van den Bongaert increases the bid to four or five numbers. Completely altruistically, Mr. Schrijver agrees to sign up, whilst attempting to drag Mr. Houtgast in the wake of his noble offer.
A fierce discussion between those mentioned above results in Mr. Houtgast postponing his decision until after the closing round of questions. Mr. van den Bongaert exceeds all human boundaries by offering to provide the stamp. Finally, the name of the commission officially becomes "Commission for Locating and Retrieving the Dartboard". Its members are subsequently installed.
[...] Mr. Houtgast announces he would like to become part of the commission. He is installed as a first-class police dog, which is changed after protest by Mr. Houtgast to a member without designation.
In the beginning of the sixties, a plan is formed within A-E to start publishing a periodical. In February of 1966, the creator of the initiative Mr. van der Hucht proudly announces the publishing of the first edition of Wis-fys-varia (an amalgamation of the words for mathematics, physics and "assorted subjects").
He assumes this periodical will soon conquer the scientific world, and predicts that these first edition copies will become very valuable in time.
Van der Hucht's assumptions, nor his predictions become reality exactly. The periodical exists in obscurity for some time, until in 1968, the name is changed. The magazine is rechristened the Vakidioot ("Professional Idiot"), a name that may not have conquered the scientific world, but at least garners zome regard in the scientific society within Utrecht.
A-E's meetings still take place in a formal atmosphere, and tradition is still highly valued. Whether or not board members are wearing their ceremonial ribbons (with a medal-like badge attached to them) is a continued source of discussion. Several quotes from throughout the years follow:
[February 1963] Mr. op den Kamp looks at his ribbon and notes that it is dirty. He asks whether there's some kind of cleaning agent available for sale. The Praeses answers: certainly.
[October 1963] Mr. op den Kamp inquires whether a cleaning agent exists that will make his badge shine like new. Praeses says his little sister can't get his badge to shine either due to technical difficulties. Mr. op den Kamp suggests the association is to keep the badges shiny. [...] Mr. op den Kamp is introduced by the ab-actis, since he has taken off his ribbon due to dullness of badge.
[October 1964] Mr. van der Heijde feels ignored during the closing round of questions. Praeses responds this is because he's not wearing his ribbon.
[October 1965] Mrs. van Urk [asks] why the vice-ab-actis isn't wearing her ribbon. The reason seems to be that Mrs. van Urk is wearing it herself.
[November 1965] Mrs. Muilwijk tables a point of order about how the Sports Commission treats their ribbons. She found one of them under a chair.
But also in other cases, decorum rules with an iron fist at A-E:
[October 1968] Problems arise concerning the ribbons: one appears to be missing. The members present offer the possibility of the ribbons being angry, for having hung around the wrong necks after the previous suspension. No evidence is found supporting this theory. Finally the ribbon, a fiscal ribbon, is found unharmed hanging over the room's central heating. The criminal cannot and will never be found.
[October 1968] Whilst reading the minutes an incident occurs: the fiscal manager demonstratively takes off his colbert, saying: "Mr. Chairman, I'm hot." The assembly is suspended, to fix the situation.
And what's the topic of discussion in the sixties? Purchasing a car!
[The praeses states:] Because many members perform tasks for A-E and are plagued in the process by rain and wind (which is illustrated by the events of the same day, wherein the vice-praeses on his bike was forced to violently swerve to dodge oncoming traffic and crash landed in the side of the road, preventing him from introducing himself and the association to Prof. Dr. Endt) the association absolutely requires its own car. After rigorous study by the board, the car known in common parlance as an "Eend" (Dutch for "duck", actually a Citroën 2CV)was deemed the most fitting. This car may be used when advertising the lustrum, by covering it in stickers and posters and driving it past the lecture halls.
[...] Mr. Noy inquires whether in the 34 previous boards, deaths have been the result of not having an "A-Eend".
After a heated debate, a poll is called. [Nineteen members] voted against, four were neutral and three were in favour. The board retracts its proposal.
S2 has to deal with less frivolous subjects than cars, since business isn't particularly good. The association has a persistent problem with defaulters; new rules are implemented that make it easier to expel these evildoers. The number of active members diminishes, as can be read in the yearly report for 1967:
During every activity within or concerning S2, it must be noted that only a very small and constant nucleus of people is present at, or contributes to these activities. For the future of our association, we hope this trend will not continue so unfavourably.
Amongst the activities referred to is the association's eighth lustrum. From the annual report, one hardly gets the impression that the lustrum went poorly. A demonstration of karate techniques was held, which was slightly disappointing because it didn't feature wooden objects being cloven in half by hand. There was also a very successful excursion to the Royal Shell. A car-puzzle-tour inspires the following report:
In the evening, a car-puzzle-tour started from cafe De Poort. In cars of all shapes and sizes, they drove off into the Uithof. In passing, the commander at watch of the nearby Kromhout-barracks was asked for his name to the point of nervous breakdown.
The tour drove on through the Bilt and Bilthoven, surprising many a native by racing around the village square(s), stealing flowers (in bloom) from communal gardens, looking for types of liquorice noone had ever heard of and more such wild actions.
Even normally dark paths through the woods were not safe. Bothered by bumps, mud and gunk the lucky participants reached a building belonging to the boy scouts in Bilthoven, where coffee and lager were already set up for them to retire happily from their troubles.
A reunion is held as well, which is followed by a dinner.
The culmination of the festivities happened after the dinner, when the Van der Graaff Laboratory was transformed into an improvised carnival. Those present could demonstrate their dexterity on various devices. Frustrations, built up over long years of study, could be vented as well: chucking objects at professors in characteristic poses was highly therapeutic. In general we can say that a party isn't to be described, but to be lived.
Still, the general tone is negative, and in 1969 an old plan resurfaces: cooperation with A-E. The pre-candidates have moved to the Uithof in the interim, reducing the amount of communication between the two associations. Some cooperation already exists, however, because the two publish the Vakidioot together. On the first of October, 1969, Mr. de Kogel is instated as a member of S2:
Mr. de Kogel considers this a historic moment, since he's the first board member of A-E to become a simultaneous member of S2. He considers this a symbol for the cooperation between the two and hopes this will grow stronger in the future.
Some members want to change the contribution amount to f 6,50, equal to that of A-E, in regards to a potential fusion.
During the General Assembly on the 8th of June 1970, fusion is again discussed. The board reminds those present of the members' general disinterest towards activities, and praeses Mrs. Breeman offers three alternatives to the assembly:
This sparks great discussion. Some wonder whether the two can actually fit in one association. Especially traveling abroad would be difficult due to the difference in subject difficulty. However, there are members, one of which is Mr. de Kogel, that think it's quite pleasant to stay around familiar faces after reaching candidacy.
Mr. de Kogel presents a plan where the two associations don't really fuse, but are controlled by the same board. Outwardly, both associations continue to exist, especially when requesting government subsidies. This plan does not pass a cursory vote, but a commission is instituted that's to thoroughly examine the possibilities. Both proponents and opponents of fusion become members of this commission.
A-E discusses the possibility of fusion at this time. The complaints at S2 are mostly regarded as honorary members showing up merely to stall the fusion proceedings. A-E believes S2 needs to be pressured if the candidates remain obstinate.
Meanwhile, the S2-commission has split into commissions of fusion proponents and opponents. Both commissions write reports, that have to be discussed during a General Assembly. This becomes the 364th and last registered assembly of S2, held on the 20th of November 1970 in the Physics Laboratory.
Because S2 lacks a candidate-board for the following year, fusion becomes unavoidable for them. Once more, the advantages and disadvantages are put together. On the one hand, S2's renown regarding excursions is mostly lost, and the candidates fear going under amongst A-E's greater number of members. On the other hand, the association's continuity is far greater after fusion. After a brief, pensive break, a board ad interim is formed, which is to prepare for fusion. Praeses a.i. Lopes Cardozo and A-E praeses Engelsman highlight several aspects of their plans, after which the assembly is closed and the candidates head to De Poort.
On the 10th of February 1971, the hammer comes down: the fusion occurs, and both associations will continue as one from there on. A new name hasn't been decided yet, so they pick a temporary name in an almost scientific manner, by fusing the names together as well. A-Eskwadraat (literally: A-E-s-squared, pronounced fluently) is born.
[Please note: in the following section, the translation is subject to several illustrative liberties, to highlight the difference between the old and new Dutch spelling at the time. At time of translation, the proper spelling is once again the "old" (i.e. proper) spelling, which this particular translator finds far more aesthetically pleasing.]
'The Physics Lab becomes the Fysics Lab' reads the Vakidioot's back page in 1970. A-Eskwadraat has not yet come into existence, and physicists haven't yet grown accustomed to the alternative spelling. Although the old-fashioned spelling still dominates in the article in question, the headline is a sign of the times. On the same page, under the heading 'Hearing', another example appears: demokracy, you know.
It won't take long before A-Eskwadraat performs enkwiries amongst its members, and people are invited to attend a sykle, to participate in heerings or to visit the weekly lunsjes in the Trans I cafetaria. The Vakidioot reports on aktions, such as organizing alternative elections to
boicot the offisial ones held in the fysics or farmasuitikal laboratory.
It seems like the sixties have arrived at the Uithof, albeit with some delay. In 1969, while the world is in turmoil elsewhere, A-E lives its own life. During an assembly, one of the members incites to action:
Mr. R. C. asks to be permitted to speak and exclaims:Everybody follow me to Tivoli, grand things are about to happen there!He leaves.
The assembly continues as planned, and Mr. R. C. is never seen or heard from again.
Now, however, the social climate has changed, and the newly minted association transforms from a cozy club into an active one. Much of an impulse is caused by Proton, according to some a group of 'lefty buggers'. Proton is one of the founding groups of the Utrecht Student Foundation (USF), which has already evolved into the central hub for student activism. They demonstrate against the difficulty of certain tests and work to further involve education with the rest of society. The group Physics and Society is one of the results. Proton's influence on A-Eskwadraat further increases, and a metamorphosis occurs in several years.
The first-year applicants in 1973 are presented with an extensive set of tasks by A-Eskwadraat. The association's goals are worded as follows:
- Raising Awareness
- Representing Interests
All aforementioned activities can be categorized as one or both of these goals. Political activities, or a cycle of lectures pertaining to the relationship between science and society, are examples of the former. Most of the work done for the SFR or the USF falls under the latter. Parties, travel, and generally improving the social climate can be examples of the latter.
SFR stands for the Sub-Faculty Council.
In the same year, the freshman taskforce is instituted, which focuses on the education's actual content. A-Eskwadraat's education-section contains all students that focus on this topic. A social section is created, which involves itself with the Uithof-based student's living situation.
In 1974 the board concludes, in an article about the A-E lustrum:
These last few years, A-Eskwadraat has gone through remarkable changes. At first, it primarily organized social activities and study-related events in a very narrow sense. More and more, the association has also begun to represent the students' interests, and assessing the fields of study in a wider perspective.
During the lustrum, one of the topics of discussion is the direction education's headed in, and political parties are represented by stands.
In 1975, a seminar is held to examine the relationship between A-Eskwadraat and the USF. The discussions are recorded in a special folder. Two participants describe A-Eskwadraat's goals as follows:
The goals of the student association are an extension of striving for a socialist society. Faculty operations have to be aligned with this goal consistently. This leads us to two main goals on a sub-faculty level:
- establishing a high quality of education;
- creating as much political awareness and activism amongst students as possible.
Subsequently, A-Eskwadraat's vision for society is formulated:
A-Eskwadraat maintains the vision to change society, so that humanity is at its very core, that those involved in policy create the policy as much as possible, that systems are adapted to people rather than people to systems;
that we may collaboratively select a certain type of student to serve the system;
that project-oriented education, as well as practical sessions, can serve as a possibility for students to develop their own interests, after having witnessed the possibilities and having considered the consequences of their choice in the broadest sense.
After which the piece's authors conclude, disappointed:
As far as we know, none of the above has been elaborated on, nor has it been renounced.
Activities continue to expand, especially regarding the freshman's introduction. A proper training camp for mentors is set up in an abandoned building near Amelisweerd (which, at the time, is still a beautiful piece of forest without any asphalt). The "break week" is introduced (a special week, now a weekend, for freshman students after the first round of tests), as well as meeting the staff members and other parts of the introduction process which are now generally accepted. Of course, not everyone agrees with A-Eskwadraat's image. In June of 1976, the board receives the following letter:
I hereby request you immediately discharge the undersigned as a member of your association.
This due to the fact that I disagree with your political (read: leftist) views, particularly since I believe these do not serve the interests of the students.
Regardless, I continue to consider your freshman introduction very useful.
So, does that mean A-Eskwadraat in the seventies was little more than a group of activists? Of course not, there are plenty of other activities going on. Although slightly pushed to the background, the social division of the association persists, which occupies itself with organizing travel abroad and excursions, hosting parties, etcetera.
One of the things on A-Eskwadraat's mind is its name, which doesn't satisfy everyone. The pronunciation is a problem, and new freshman students have to be instructed: "aa-tot-ee-es-kwadraat" (a-to-e-s-squared). Even its spelling is hardly consistent. "A-Eskwadraat" occurs occasionally, as well as A-ES2, A-S2, AES2 and AS2.
Apparently, the association had a sheet of special letter stickers in the past, because whenever the name was written in a larger font, it read Æ-S2.
In the Vakidioot for November 1972, the board issues a contest:
The board embarks on its journey anew
This reboot includes a task for you
To come up with a name for our association
That fits the tone of our improved creation
Whoever delivers the name that sticks
Will receive a gift card from St. Nick's
Why "A-Eskwadraat" doesn't fit the mentioned tone is unclear. Little has come out of the discussion, since the association is still proudly called A-Eskwadraat to this day (shortened form: A-Es2). Its pronunciation has evolved to "aa-eskwadraat" (ah-es-squared), with a scarcely audible transition between the "aa" and the "es".
A-Eskwadraat also moves around the Uithof a lot. The area hardly looks inhabited at the time - it's colloquially known as 'the polder' (marshlands). Sounds of protest ring out regularly. Trees should be planted on the Princeton-square. Transitorium I has to be made more inhabitable - to his end, a freshman taskforce is instituted. The cafetaria exists on two different floors, and its internal stairway leads upwards. A-Eskwadraat's room is situated in the hallway behind the cafetaria (currently home to computer rooms).
The freshman taskforce dedicates itself to the cafetaria's decor. Soon, the first plans are drawn up: comfy chaises-longues, a bar including bar stools, many plants, and absolutely no right angles! The plans have never made it past these drawings, though.
Much later, the cafetaria is cut in half, at the same time when A-Eskwadraat moves around frantically within Trans I. They originally move to a small room in the middle upper hallway, between practical leaders Mr. Bardelmeyer and Mr. Kuperus. One year later, A-Eskwadraat moves to a 'shack' smack-dab middle in the room meant for Physics practicals. This room has been 'custom designed' for A-Eskwadraat, with its own booth for study book sales and a lot of wall space where cabinets can be placed. The association possesses space elsewhere as well. In 1973, the Physics Lab is transferred from the Bijlhouwerstreet to the Uithod. The building adjacent to the Princeton-square is initially called Transitorium IV on the blueprints, but this particular disaster is averted. For a while, it's simply called the Physics Lab, then the Laboratory for Experimental Physics, and since several years the Buys Ballot Laboratory (BBL). (Translator's note: at time of translation, the name has changed somewhat to the Buys Ballotbuilding (BBG). It doesn't seem like a popular name just yet.) From the start, A-Eskwadraat has a room in this new building, on the second floor at first, and later on the first floor in room 100 - which has mysteriously disappeared from the building. Later, another room is discovered in the Generators-building near the KVS. Literally discovered, according to the assembly notes from 1981, or rather, rediscovered.
History repeats itself: near the end of the seventies the association heads for a downward plunge. Students are becoming less and less interested in organizing activities. Several previously added aspects are once again removed. In 1981, an volunteer for the introduction predicts:
Continuing the trend of the last couple years into the future, there won't even be an introduction to our faculty in three years (at most).
That prediction turned out to be overly sombre. The situation doesn't improve the subsequent years - introductions have even been the work of a single person - but it hasn't ever vanished, and right now it is once again a huge event. The downward plunge, however, is symptomatic for A-Eskwadraat in the early eighties. The era of activism has passed, and the association moves on to its next metamorphosis.
The eighties start off meagre. The association is retiring from its wild, political yeas, and students once again focus on studying. Boards no longer consist purely of activists. An article published in the Volkskrant (politically right-wing Dutch newspaper) is no longer a reason to protest, but the following is remarked:
We should be wary of A-Es2 being extinguished by means of a 'cost-saving reorganisation'!
Besides, there are plenty of non-political problems to deal with.
An attempt to register the association with the Chamber of Commerce fails. The Chamber doesn't want the (in their eyes) unimportant A-Eskwadraat taking up space in its records.
The Vakidioot disappears in 1981. Although it's no longer published by A-Eskwadraat, it often contains reports on the association's well-being. The editors of the Trage Massa (Slow Mass), a periodical founded in 1980 by the freshman taskforce, proves unwilling to fill the gap the Vakidioot left behind. The Vakidioot resurfaces several years later, but into 1985, it continues to run into publishing problems.
This period can be characterized by its gloomy mood. The subgroups within the association have drifted further apart. The Vrij Experiment Groep (Free Experiment Group) for Physics is a good example. Originally, the group was founded under the umbrella of A-Eskwadraat. In the early eighties, the group is still technically a part of A-Eskwadraat, but in reality it has far closer ties to the Natuurkundewinkel (Physics Shop), founded by the faculty. Fusion between the two is impending.
The Overleggroep Wiskunde (Discussion Group Mathematics) draws in the mathematicians, resulting in the physicists having most of a say within A-Eskwadraat. The dualistic character of the association causes displeasure amongst its members. This results in the 1981 question of whether the association should be split in two. Opinions vary wildly. One of the board members blames the mathematicians for the dualism, since activities intended for mathematicians aren't visited at all. Besides, the students hardly communicate within fields anyway, and therefore the conclusion is:
We propose: confirm the current situation and strike the mathematicians from the A-Es2 Articles of Association! These mathematicians hardly show any interest in A-Es2 either way, considering the trouble we must go through every year to find a single mathematician for the A-Es2 board.
Therefore: BANISH THE MATHEMATICIANS FROM A-Es2, RIGHT NOW!
A different boardmember sees things less black-and-white. A-Eskwadraat has also made mistakes towards the mathematicians. A split would only cause more chaos, for example during the introduction.
There are, however, other ways to solve our problems, without splitting up the association. This will require some activity both by mathematicians and physicists to set things straight. The mathematicians will need to supply two members for the board to straighten out relations between the studies, while the physicists create their own group to organize specifically physics-related activities, so the board can occupy itself solely with general activities.
The previous quotes are from two documents that serve as the instigators for a General Assembly. The exact events remains uncertain, but its result is not: no split has occurred.
A definite lowpoint is the freshman weekend of 1983. The minimal turnout of only five freshmen renders the weekend obsolete, so it's instead turned into a single pleasant night, out of goodwill.
Limited enthousiasm remains a problem for a few years. A probable cause could be the introduction of the new two-phase structure (the Bachelor-Master structure), which is instated in the academic year 1982-1983. The freshmen are worried they won't have enough time to study and stand back regarding activities more than ever. It takes a year for people to figure out what's going on. From 1983 onward, the realization dawns that a lot can still be done. Student life is improving once more, and A-Eskwadraat is led upwards by the rising tide.
The first step to national recognition is having the Articles of Association registered with a notary. After that, the Chamber of Commerce suddenly reconsiders their position on A-Eskwadraat's importance: A-Eskwadraat is officially registered as an association, according to the law.
The association has changed. Organizations such as the USF still exist, and several A-Eskwadraat members attend the meetings. But out there, they speak of
dividing tasks, reorganizing, and the educational system. Therefore it's not very interesting to us.
A-Eskwadraat is still interested in collaboration, but for means such as hosting a pop concert or organizing collective excursions. The Faculty Discussion is more suited to each study's discussion groups, as is thought.
Meanwhile, the association has also expanded. Computer Sciences has become a field of study, leaving no less than five different blood types swarming throughout Trans I. The acronym WINGS combines the (Dutch) names of all five fields, which is later changed to SWING.
Naturally, not everything happens effortlessly. The 1984 lustrum (still derived from when A-E was founded!) doesn't really lift off, according to the remarks in the board assembly's minutes:
This isn't turning out special. A lecture from Snelders is coming up, as well as a party with a free keg. Maybe a drink, so that we'll be included in the Utrecht circle of drinks as well.
The members' contribution is a particular problem. After a lot of effort, they manage to send a stack of giro cards in the mail. The Postal Service rejects the stack: it has no uniform size, and therefore cannot be delivered. The increasing numbers of students doesn't make matters any easier. In 1985, a revolutionary proposal is adopted: all freshmen are automatically registered by including the contribution with the freshman book sales. All other studetnts are automatically registered and pay nothing.
Even in prosperous times, evil can strike. One day, a large sum in cash 'disappears' from the A-Eskwadraat room. Sadly, no trace has been found of this sum in the archives...
Despite all troubles, things are improving. The number of activities and the enthousiasm increase. The general direction of things is more on the sociable side. For example sweaters and stickers are printed bearing the A-Eskwadraat logo. More drinks are organized. During Sinterklaas (Dutch celebration, based on bishop St. Nicholas, the inspiration for Santa Claus) the good man honors us with a visit, and to close out the calendar year, the traditional oliebollen (deep fried solid doughnuts) are prepared.
New traditions arise. For several years in a row, a yearly symposium is held, with speakers from the scientific as well as the business community. In the academic year 1989-1990 the first SWING-Annual is published, unique in the history of A-Eskwadraat. The sales of study books have increased from a single copy to an actual company with a massive yearly turnover.
What has changed, when we compare A-Eskwadraat to A-E and S2 from about thirty years ago? There's no longer any 'whining' about whether or not members are wearing their ribbons. The honorary membership has been abolished. Wearing a suit or a colbert is far from required at this point. With some effort the board now dresses is color-matching sweaters for General Assemblies - A-Eskwadraat sweaters, of course. The titles have been changed to the more common: chairman, secretary, treasurer, or just member. Board ribbons don't remain either, nameplates suffice. Commissions are no longer installed or dissolved during General Assemblies, they are easily created, and sometimes disappear equally easily.
Are there no traditions left, then? Well, there are. These days, a General Assembly is concluded by hammering a nail into the so called assembly board with a large mallet. The A-Eend has made its way here, albeit in a more compact form (as a fuzzy doll). And now and again, people do whine during assemblies.
In 1990, a contest is issued wherein contestants have to deliver designs for a banner. A-Eskwadraat is still hanging on to the hopelessly outdated A-E banner at this time. The design chosen during a General Assembly is shaped like an egg and the source of great discussion. Some members feel misrepresented by an egg, in particular a massive red egg with a quality control stamp on it, which, to make matters worse, contains a secret code as well.
The protestors demand a supplementary General Assembly, during which the egg-banner has to be disposed of some way. Surprising everyone, the banner's creator has brought a made and ready egg-banner. One of the concerned members
Pieter van Bruegel asks whether this banner has cost f 500,-. [Creator] Arie says it's a gift. Pieter expresses his happiness in response.
After a confusing debate, they decide to instate a banner changing committee, which is to reach a compromise based on the egg-banner.
In January 1991 the compromise can be shown to the General Assembly. The egg-shape is maintained, but sewn onto a white banner-shaped background and with its quality control stamp removed. After some discussion, the new banner is accepted by a majority of the General Assembly.
So we see: much changes, and much returns. With those words we finish, for now, the history of the associations S2, A-E and A-Eskwadraat.