The Curious Ritual of Course Selection

By Zong Flong Bjong, a.k.a. Daniel Herm Morris

The regular readers of Zog Journal of the Social Sciences might know that our team of social scientists has been conducting intensive and extensive research in the town of Utrecht on planet Earth. Research has centred on the social activity around a collection of buildings called University College Utrecht (UCU). Disguised as an earth “fly”, our team has now made fascinating discoveries regarding the traditions and rituals of the inhabitants. A ritual known as “Course Selection” deserves special attention.

The yearly ritual starts at approximately the hottest time of the year. For this reason we believe its roots may lie in an ancient sun worshipping festival. The tradition is perhaps a form of “rite of passage” for the young, newly-arrived humans. These new apprentices consume large amounts of liquid and listen to loud music. They perform strange and incoherent dances, often falling down in a religious “trance”.  At the end of this earth week of worship they spend an extended night in bed and the next day appear very sad and uncommunicative. We speculate this to be a form of mourning for the lost summer heat.

At the next stage each apprentice consults an assigned priest called “Tutor”. The manifest purpose of this consultation seems to be to assign each apprentice to “Courses”.  These “Courses” are extension of the rituals the apprentices have experienced at a younger age in other villages.

In our detailed and very scientific observations, we reveal that the way the apprentices are assigned to these ‘Courses’ seems to be somewhat random.

Photo courtesy of

The priest or ‘Tutor’ makes reassuring noises to the assigned apprentices that they will be assigned to the Courses they have chosen. Happy and content, the apprentices get involved in other strange rituals that seem to have no manifest purpose: buying a mechanical two-wheel device, finding out where and what the O:\ drive is (and then wondering why they bothered), trying to work out on which website their newly created passwords work (on most it stays as gobbledegook), ordering and paying for books at ‘Study Store’ afterwards revealed to be out of stock,  trying to print documents for which they need a CHIP card for which they need a Dutch “bank account” for which they need a BSN number for which they need to register with the great metropolis of Utrecht – for which they need to wait until 14 September.

While the apprentices are busy with these rituals the Tutors construct a “Waiting List”. We believe it has the latent function of re-assuring the apprentices that all will be well and that the sun will come back to full heat next year. Despite detailed investigation we can’t find a manifest purpose for the Waiting List. 

Many more questions remain unanswered about this fascinating village. A popular area of interest is the communal feasting area called “Dining Hall”. Since recently, apprentices have started carrying plastic cards to the hall – is this some form of sacrifice? What are the latent and manifest functions of such cards? Why do apprentices no longer visit the hall at the start of the day? These still remain complete mysteries.


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