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Finally signing the walls of the Sweat Room: 'That really is the finishing touch'

An online ceremony, no party and then no signature in the Sweat Room: during the pandemic, many graduation traditions could not take place. Now anyone who graduated in corona time may still come and sign their name.

'Mine’s just there.' Leon Ham points up along the crammed wall of the Sweat Room. 'I chose that corner because the light falls nicely there.' The Industrial Ecology alumnus is one of the many alumni who are coming to put their signatures on the wall in the Academy Building on four Fridays in May and June.

Fully booked

These 'Leiden hasn't forgotten you days' are an initiative of alumni coordinator Sanderien de Jong. 'I had already thought in 2022, at the end of the last lockdown, that something should be done for everyone who had graduated in the pandemic,' she says. 'They had already had such a difficult time and then they couldn't sign their names in the Sweat Room either.'

Together with communication officer of the Alumni Office Maud Alberts, she decided to invite everyone who graduated in the corona period to come and add their names. 'We had initially planned two days, but within ten hours all the time slots were full. We got together with the beadle and luckily managed to add two days.'

Being part of the tradition

It is something very special, a signature in the Sweat Room, thinks Dutch language alumna Eline van Onzenoort, who stopped by while painting her new house. 'I was there when my mother signed her name after she graduated. I always wanted that too, but corona made it impossible. It's nice that now I was able to sign after all, more or less in the same place as my mother.'

Alumna of European Politics and Society Nino Makhauri even came specially from Georgia to add her signature. 'I had to return to Georgia halfway through my second semester, but I was still keen to be part of this fine tradition, especially since my sister is also a Leiden University alumna. She does have her signature in the room.'

Festive day

Nino does not give herself much time to reflect on the special moment; she is returning to Georgia almost immediately to continue working on her dissertation. Leon is definitely going to celebrate though. 'We’re going for a drink and taking time to reminisce. It really is a festive day.'

Have you obtained your Master's degree in Leiden, and did you not get the chance to sign the wall of the Sweat Room? Please make an appointment with the Academy Building.

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