Jaap’s Perspective on Security

Jaap is a 23-year-old student at Delft University of Technology. Between his recently completed bachelor’s degree in chemistry and his master’s degree in chemical engineering, he is teaching at a secondary school. Originally, he is from a village near Utrecht, but he feels like a proper ‘Utrechter’, because he attended secondary school there and it is where his social life took place when he was in his teens.

“To be honest, I see myself as a transient in Delft; I think that this is true of most students. My student society has been important to me in meeting people and finding rooms. I feel at home there,” he says. Jaap’s main hobby is skiing, but not in the way most people ski, taking the lift up and gliding down again. No, what Jaap does is ski touring, where you walk up the mountain on special skis and get to places other people cannot reach. “I work a lot so I can go skiing as often as possible,” he explains. “I go low-budget, but it still costs money.”

Physical and digital security

“I never actually feel unsafe,” he continues. “But maybe I have no reason to. I’m a young man, 190 cm tall, so maybe I’m less vulnerable. I had a rather sheltered upbringing; you live, then, in a kind of bubble. I notice, though, in my work at school things are not that easy for everyone.” Jaap finds teaching very satisfying: “I actually think all students should be required to do it for a year; you learn a lot and you help solve the teacher shortage as well.”

So, while Jaap mostly feels physically safe, then, there’s another aspect of security he does keep in mind: digital security. “Everybody does foolish things sometimes,” he believes. “Especially when you’re young. Suppose I dive into the canal while I’m drunk, for example. That would follow me the rest of my life and twenty years from now, it would still be on the Internet. That’s something I’m very much aware of. For that reason, I’m very careful about what I put on social media.”

The Delft Perspective

Jaap found taking part in the Delft Perspective instructive and positive. “The guided tours we went on were very interesting, I’m happy I had the opportunity. If you actually live here, you don’t do that sort of thing; people from Utrecht don’t go to the Dom Tower. It’s important, though, to know who William the Silent was and what he meant to the Netherlands.” The workshops were an eye-opener, too. “I was shocked by the stories, particularly the stories of the women students, and how often they’re harassed. Some almost every day. Not just with comments but sometimes even being touched. What’s wrong with those men? The stupid thing is, I don’t see it happening. If I did, I’d say something about it, because that might be easier for me, as a man. But apparently the harassment happens very slyly.”

Jaap with his ski gear, on his way to the station. Photography: Suzanne Liem