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Amicus Civitas – The Association for and by Students

Note: this article was made as a collaboration between the Groninger Studentenkrant and Amicus Civitas

“Not what we have, but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance.” – Epicurus 

Earlier this week, I sat down with Youssef and Matej, the chairman and head of external affairs, respectively, of the new student association Amicus Civitas. We discussed the up-and-coming association that began in February of this year to build an exhilarating university experience for all Groningen students. This is what they had to say.

How did it all begin?

Youssef: I think it all began when I first moved to this city. I’ve always loved hosting events and building spaces for people to experience new things. I didn’t know what student associations were until I saw the Vindicat building. I found the idea of students organizing very interesting. As an international student, it can be very lonely to live in this new city.

September last year, I decided to begin this project myself. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for someone else to take the initiative to create this project. Hence, I took it upon myself to create a system where I could provide a space for people – international students like myself mostly – to connect with each other. My dream was to make this university experience something to remember, for myself and everyone around me. I wanted to improve student well-being, so I came up with the idea of creating this organization. 

Matej: It went similarly for me. Ever since I moved away from my home in North Macedonia, I felt like I lacked my sense of community and belonging. I think that in many Western European countries, this sense of community belonging is missing.  Once I met Yousef, he enlightened me toward creating something ourselves to build this community for others as well. We wish to create a space where everyone can be themselves without fear, as our community of friends will accept them for who they are. The rawest version of themselves. 

So, what do you do in the organization?

Yousef: We are working at the moment to create this special feeling of belonging. In a sense, we believe we have gathered some of the best architects of connection, people who like ourselves have a vision for this community and see it growing into something beautiful. 

Through our committees of Well-being and Media, we try to achieve this goal. The first committee mentioned envisions making every single one of our events an unforgettable experience in everyone’s university life. Our connection designers in the committee work very hard to ensure that this goal is met in our community, events, and activities. Meanwhile, the second committee mentioned provides content to spread positive and wholesome messages, establishing our image as a friendly association for students.

Matej: We also truly wish to provide a welcoming environment for new students who wish to join our cause. Since our official association inauguration in February, we have 65 members – 30 active members who work restlessly in our committees and participate in all our meetings and events, and 35 regular members who join our vision by attending our social events. Our Introduction and Integration Committee has as its main function to make every new member of the association feel connected with the rest. Our goal is to be the best of new friendships, boosting students’ quality of life, academic performance, and overall university experience.

Youssef: That is precisely what Amicus Civitas stands for. When translated from Latin it means friends of the community, and this is the vision for our association: a family of people who belong to one another.

What are some of the challenges you have faced on the way of making this dream come true?

 Matej: I think that one of the biggest challenges we have faced so far is the how. How do we bring this all about? Many others have tried and failed to bring this sense of community to such a diverse group of students. How to convey this feeling of belonging to everyone in our surroundings? We are aware that there is a lot of competition from other associations that go a long way back. We don’t know anyone in our time who has bravely begun such a big project by themselves. Regardless, we decided to take on this challenge. To create and share that sense of uniqueness within our association was the hardest thing to achieve – to make sure people realize the importance of our message. And we still try every day to make this dream come true.

Do you think you are overcoming this challenge right now?

Youssef: Absolutely! We think and analyze thoroughly how to overcome this question of how. We are always looking for more innovative ways to make people feel like they belong and they are part of something bigger. We are still on the path to success, however, I must say that we’ve come a long way. I am extremely proud of all the hard work that has been done to make this project flourish. Even though the organization officially began earlier this year in February, my dream has been there for a long time now. Together with our team, we have been working behind the scenes since March last year to get to where we are now. The hard work cannot be overlooked. We have provided a space for many wonderful people, and for me that’s already a success.

 Matej: I completely agree with this. I think our biggest strength has been that we genuinely care a lot about the students in this city and take their perspectives into account. We ask for their feedback and implement it in our everyday decisions. The only way to learn the art of enjoyment and memorable experiences is to listen to those who wish to have them. And that’s what we do.

What do you envision for your association in the future?

Youssef: Personally, I wish to create a foundation after beginning in Groningen and spread it all through Europe. I wish to see communities of people united, in friendship, in joy. I envision nothing but to revolutionize student life for everyone, and I am willing to work as hard as I need to in order to get this project going, from the ground up.

Matej: Totally! I see myself living in this city as long as necessary to bring Amicus Civitas to success. We envision this association becoming the hub for the creation and maintenance of friendships. The more I work for this association, the more I realize how important we are becoming – people love connecting with each other and it is beginning to show through our events. 

And, what event have you organized so far?

Youssef: Well, besides our bi-weekly meeting with members, we’ve had a couple of great events. Our first official event was the Amiquest. We invited everyone we knew to this event, a quest throughout the city with four different locations where well-being activities would be held. When we first wanted to plan this event, we faced a very big challenge: the stigma of well-being. People don’t usually want to get involved with well-being as they find it difficult or annoying or – to put it simply – a waste of time. We wanted to change this. With every activity, we tried to show people that well-being activities can be fun and integrative, and a good environment to make friends.

Matej: We received incredible feedback from this event. With each activity, people got to know each other and built truly meaningful friendships. Soon enough after the event, many became members of our association and that is where things got started. By the last location of the day, the stigma around well-being was gone. Everyone who joined made amazing memories and built a network of support and enjoyment. They felt safe and heard in that environment, and I am really glad we could provide that to them.

Yousef: The next event, which was our first official opening party, was Project A. Around 400 students joined and had a blast. It was amazing to see and rewarding to organize.

Matej: Lastly, we recently held a Kingsday Barbeque alongside Amnesty International (AISG), Black Ladies of Groningen (BLOG), The European International Model United Nations (TEIMUN), and Groningen Mail. We stood there and energized people for the chaotic wilderness of Kings Day in this country, and it was incredible.

Finally, can you tell me something about your upcoming event?

Youssef: Of course! We wish to completely change the social scene in Groningen. Our intention is to provide a full-on immersive experience for students to have fun. Socializing with the best people, funky light, upbeat music… that’s basically the recipe for having a blast.

Matej: Yes! Our party White Out will be held on the 16th of May at OOST. Our Events Planning Committee has worked eagerly to ensure a memorable night. We rented an incredible venue, found some of the best sound systems, worked for months finding the best DJs in town, and can ensure that this will be a party to remember. 

Youssef: In spite of the fact that we are not a party association, our aim is to provide students with the best university life ever. Well-being, friendships, balance, and fun are fundamental for this. This is the message Amicus Civitas wishes to convey. This is the dream we work for every day. 

For more information on Amicus Civitas, visit their webpage Also, check out their event WhiteOut on the 16th of May on their Instagram @amicuscivitas.