The Faculty Association Ibn Battuta was established in the 60’s. This was a time in which a lot of students engaged themselves with politics. Before Ibn Battuta existed the “Sociale Interacademiale”, a nationwide Student association. After a while the Groningen geographers wanted more possibilities to discuss topics of their study field, so they decided to start their own association. On the 19th of June in 1961 the Groningen geographers student association (in Dutch: Groningse Geografische Studenten Vereniging (G.G.S.V.)) was established in a room of the geographers institute building (a precursor of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences) at the Grote Markt. After a contest the name Ibn Battuta was chosen to be added to the meaningless acronym G.G.S.V.. The name was nominated by W.W. de Jong, employee at the geographers institute, now a honorary member of the association.
In the first years of Ibn Battuta, the association was very serious. All the activities were study related. There were lectures, a yearly journey abroad, and the association was active in student politics. Besides the serious parts, there was also some time left to have some fun. There were socials (at the students at home, later also at institutes or in a bar), and they had cabaret evenings. The cabaret was basically a talent show in which students could show all kinds of talents, and it was a great, yearly success.
The number of members was growing, just like the number of activities. The amount of active members and the demand for more activities eventually became too much for the board of Ibn Battuta. At that time the board decided that the association needed more committees, so a few new committees were institutionalized. The lustrum committee had already existed for some time, and in 1981 a second committee was installed; the foreign excursion committee. The task of the foreign excursion committee is organising a yearly excursion abroad, which was until 1981 organised by the board of Ibn Battuta. Another wellknown committee that was established in the 1980’s was the almanac committee. Furthermore, the 1980’s also experienced the foundation of a congress committee, which later was to be known as Geo Promotion, now a fully independent organization.
Delegating tasks of the board continued in the 90’s. EGEA Groningen, the lecture committee, the excursion committee and the first year committee were founded. These years were a turnpoint for Ibn Battuta because the association changed from being a serious association towards a more student-like association. Nowadays, there is a clear balance between serious, study related activities, and activities based on relaxation and social bonding.
A positive atmosphere and relaxation became more and more important to Ibn Battuta and her members. This caused the increased importance of the coffee room, basically a living room for members, with sofas and coffee. This is the very place where members come together to relax before and after lectures, drink a cup of coffee, and discuss upcoming events, courses, and more important matters. Even though the association moved a couple of times due to relocations of the faculty, the coffee room has always remained the social heart of the association.
Changes in the educational system have often caused the association headaches, and boards have always had to find new ways of motivating students to become active members within the organization without it damaging their study ambitions. Reforming the educational system (albeit partly) is often a large debate during elections and the association should always monitor which changes are coming, and how they could influence the way in which the association operates.
We may conclude that Ibn Battuta is still growing. Not only in terms of numbers, but also in terms of improving the way in which the association operates, deals with external factors, and how it manages internal and external relationships.