Maypole erected on campus in Kleve

Making the university's stories visible

One of the old spring rites of the Lower Rhine is raising the maypole. The stake is lifted in celebration of the coming summer and the renewal of biological life. This year the tradition comes to the Kleve campus of the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences. Thanks to the generous support of the Friends of the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences - Campus Cleve e.V., the maypole with the swan race, the Homecoming Cup, the winter ball and the Christmas tree become part of the university's growing history and community tradition.

From left to right:        

Professor William Megill (Faculty of Technology and Bionics), Hans-Josef Kuypers (Managing Director of the Friends of the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences - Campus Cleve e.V.), Peter Wack (1st Chairman of the Friends of the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences - Campus Cleve e.V.), Dr. Oliver Locker-Grütjen, President of the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences - ©HSRW


Like the university, the maypole is unique. It reflects the diversity of the university's student body and is not only inspired by the maypoles of the Lower Rhine region, but also by traditions from other cultures such as the Bisj poles of New Guinea, the carved tent poles of the Tuareg or the carved trees of West Africa. They all record the history of a community in the pictures carved into wood. In some regions, the maypole also celebrates the contribution of the craft. And in North America, home of University Professor William Megill, a totem pole is used to celebrate life and immortalize the history of the ward by representing people and events in the carvings on the stake. The college maypole builds on these traditions in its own way to record the history of the university and the community that supports it.

This maypole, erected on May 5, 2021, is actually not a wooden post, but a six-meter-high lightweight construction made of steel with twelve two-meter-long carved wooden planks, each of which tells part of the history of the university. So far, five boards have been carved - these tell the history of the institution and the community so far. Three of the boards have been partially completed - these represent the present, a story that is slowly taking shape but not yet clear. And four of the boards are still raw and represent the stories that will happen in the future. These boards will be carved with the stories to be retold in the years to come. The lightweight construction made of steel and wood also represents the STEM and bionics history of the university.

The maypole tells the previous history of the university in four panels that are distributed around the scaffolding. The first of the top floorboards shows the epochs of the college using animals in the tradition of North American totem poles. The turtle, wolf, bear and eagle describe the growth phases of the university in their own way.

The second panel in the upper layer represents the students of the university using the logos of the four student representatives, one from each of the four faculties of the institution. Their emblems were designed by the students themselves and represent their aspirations and dreams.

On the middle level, a panel tells both the geographic history of the college locations and the story of the support the college has received from people in the local communities, represented by the symbols of the three cities that nurture the roots of the tree of learning. The equally important support of the economy for the university and its students is represented by the emblems of the development associations.

At the base of the pole is a panel which tells the story of the pole itself: Funding from the Friends of the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences - Campus Cleve eV enabled the pole to be realized and thus makes an important contribution to the growing traditions of the university community, so that the university's stories remain visible in the future.