Student organizations: full of understanding, but bummed out over corona measures

Students organizations in Eindhoven respond with understanding and acceptance to the sharpened corona measures and advices, which have led to the cancellation of many of the activities that were planned for the next few days. But “we’ve seen better times.”

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No sports trainings and lessons, no Thursday afternoon drinks, no indoor skiing with Thor, no quiz evenings at Van der Waals and Protagoras, no BMT party, no hippie party in the Ballenbak, no classical concert by Quadrivium in the Muziekgebouw. In spite of all the preparations, one student event after the other is being cancelled this week.

“We’ve seen better times,” is how chairman Ruben de Jongh of Lucid, the study association for Industrial Design, sums up the prevailing sentiment within his association. Naturally, everyone understands why these measures are necessary, he emphasizes, “but members also tell me how bummed out they are now that all the fun activities are being cancelled - because extracurricular activities are simply really important.”

One of those fun activities was the gala his own study association was supposed to organize at Fifth NRE in Eindhoven Friday evening. “We expected somewhere between 250 and 300 guests, tickets had been sold already.” Lucid is currently trying to figure out whether the party can be held at another time, preferably somewhere in the not too distant future, “but when you plan it just before summer, the party locations and people responsible for the lighting, for example, might not have any space left in their agendas.”

As a precaution, the association decided to cancel some activities in the course of next week as well. “We just don’t want to keep the people involved with our activities uncertain for too long. They already announced that the guidelines might remain valid after Monday as well.”

Hectoliter discount

According to the chairman - and bar commissioner -, cancelling the weekly drink isn’t such a problem for now (“we don’t make any profits from that anyway; we want to keep our prices low and break even”), but it might become problematic though. That’s because the revenues from the bar are closely linked to the hectoliter discount the association agreed upon with the supplier. “The more you purchase, the larger the discount at the end of the year. Having to close down for a longer period of time might certainly affect us financially.”

According to Leonie Copraij, secretary of the FSE, the umbrella organization for study associations of TU/e, the prevailing sentiment within the study associations is one of acceptance and understanding. The organization, incidentally, didn’t sit down with TU/e’s crisis team (“we wanted to, but the crisis team, understandably, has a busy schedule”), but she is aware that the study associations are in contact with TU/e, or with their own departmental boards as far as the issue of the coronavirus is concerned.

The coronavirus was a much-discussed topic at the start of the week already, she says, “but since the cancellation of the Career Expo and the weekly drinks, it has become more of a central issue for the associations,” Copraij notices. Agendas for the coming weeks were cleared, and many of the trips abroad later this year are on hold. Thor, for example, planned a study trip to China later this year, but the Electrical Engineering study association decided to putt off the final decision on this matter until April, while it awaits further developments.

Social associations

The three student social associations, located in the city, are also in contact with the university with regard to the coronavirus “We received a phone call yesterday asking us to stop by the Executive Board and the crisis team,” says Marloes Coolen, chairwoman of umbrella organization Compositum. “They strongly urged us to follow the same advice that was given to the study associations.” She says that the parties will convene again at the start of next week to discuss the situation.

Coolen says that the Eindhoven Student Corps, of which she is the secretary, cancelled an open party “for about four hundred people,” on Wednesday and Thursday in any case. “SSRE also has a special week with its society, and Demos has its Dies Week. So, it’s quite inconvenient for everyone. But people understand it, whereas they might have believed the measures to be a bit excessive earlier. Everyone is starting to understand the gravity of the situation now, especially since these last couple of days.”

But she also says: “Obviously, we hope this won’t last for too long.” Because canceling activities isn’t just a social loss, but a potential financial loss for associations as well. “We organize our drinking get-togethers on Tuesday and Thursday; with some 200, 250 visitors on average on Tuesday; on Thursday we start with approximately 100 internal members, after which we open our doors to external members, another 250 to 300 people on average.” And this generates, through the bar, a serious revenue, which the association will now mis out on, Coolen says. The university is certainly aware of this, she says. “But for now, all we can do is wait and see how the situation unfolds.”

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