Under current coronavirus restrictions, student associations are classified as “normal hospitality”. Due to this definition and the mandatory hard closure, dozens of associations have been unable to offer most of their member activities and services, such as sports, study facilities, theater and music rehearsals.
The associations – Albertus Magnus, Bernlef, Cleopatra, Dizkartes, Navigators, Unitas GSV and Vindicat – write that their organizations should not face the same restrictions as those applied to the hospitality industry. The letter calls for a tailor-made corona policy that clearly distinguishes between student associations and (private) societies and ordinary, publicly accessible dining establishments.
The open letter was sent to the Dutch cabinet, the mayors of nine university cities and the Dutch Security Council. The student associations are affiliated with the Groningen Chamber of Associations Contractus, which sent the open letter jointly with the National Chamber of Associations (LKvV) and the Local Chambers of Associations.
According to reporting by the GIC, Eize Atzema of the LKvV says, “Contact with other students, both inside and outside of the classroom, are essential for the mental well-being of the individual student. It is precisely this social contact, in the cultural, sporting and social realms, that we as associations can contribute to. But that is only possible if we are offered the possibilities to do so, for example by reopening societies and restarting associations. It is high time for an appropriate approach to the negative effects on student well-being.”
On 11 January, the Dutch Psychiatric Association reiterated the importance of social contact for students and school children in their own open letter. Research by Trimbos and the RIVM have also shown that the mental health of students was already in poor condition as early as November 2021. Feelings of loneliness were found to be widespread and strongly related to other psychological complaints, due in large part to the coronavirus crisis and related measures.
Photo courtesy of the GIC