Mentor supervision: parents should also be wary of unwanted behaviour

19 Aug 2022

Yesterday and today 1200 mentors are ‘taught’ how to parent. How can they be the best possible father or mother to their children next week? Matthijs Kraijo is in charge of the coaches and preparation days.

‘Statement: an evening of smoking weed during the introduction week should be okay.’ Mentor coach Tieze has a look around the group. ‘What do you guys think? Yes or no?’

The soon-to-be mentors move around the small room in the Grotius building. Most go and stand in the ‘no’ corner. Only one mentor walks to the other side, to ‘yes’. A discussion on the difference between smoking weed and drinking alcohol and how it influences the mood in a group follows. Not everyone thinks there is a difference.

Head coach

Yesterday and today 1200 mentors are being prepared for one of the busiest weeks of the year: the introduction week. Based on statements and cases, they practice situations that might happen next week. Think of, for example, freshmen that can not find their place within the group, who become (too) drunk or who need medical attention.

‘I am still friends with some people I met during my introduction week’

Schooling the mentors is in the hands of 21 coaches – all ex-mentors – who themselves received two days of instruction last weekend on how to best guide the fathers and mothers. Head coach of the entire operation is Matthijs Kraijo. ‘I started with the preparations in January’, he says.

He was a mentor several times, rose to the position of mentor coach and is now in charge of the entire group. Meanwhile he works at Radboud University himself as marketing and communication specialist.


‘Important during the introduction week is to not push new students over their boundaries, but still let them try new things’, he thinks. He remembers how he, as a country boy, went out all night for the first time in the big city of Nijmegen during his introduction week. ‘I still remember what that was like. And I am still friends with some people I met back then.’

Former introduction week in Molenstraat. Photo: Tom Hessels

One requirement for a successful introduction week is that freshmen feel comfortable withing their introduction group. That is why so much attention is being paid to alcohol, drugs, and social security during the mentors’ training. Smoking a joint might be fun for some, but if it dulls the mood within the group, it is not recommended. The same counts for drinking beer a tad too enthusiastically. Furthermore, all mentors had to sign a declaration of intent in which they promise not to incite their students to drink alcohol or use drugs.

Code of conduct

‘This year, there is an app for the event which states what exactly a mentor needs to do when things go bad’, Kraijo explains. The coach who is instructing his group in a small room in the Grotius building goes through what steps to take, together with his mentors. You might want to get help from a fellow mentor, if need be call emergency services or refer a student who had a nasty experience to a confidential advisor, for example. ‘This year we pay extra attention to what transgressive behaviour is’, says Kraijo. ‘That has to do with the university’s new code of conduct, but also with all that is currently happening in the world.’

At the end of Thursday afternoon, all mentors are ready for the introduction week. An advantage is that the mentors of different programmes meet each other thanks to the training, Kraijo says. ‘The introduction week becomes fun when they are really looking forward to it. These instruction days help with that.’ To get in the mood, the mentors and coaches conclude with drinks.

Translated by Jan Scholten.

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