“I spend five days a week in my room and hardly know my fellow students,” Laure tells Cursor. The seventeen-year-old from Apeldoorn, who skipped a few years in elementary school, wanted to move to Eindhoven to start her new life as a student, and social contacts are a part of that life, naturally. “I’m fortunate that two of my friends from Apeldoorn also moved to Eindhoven to study here. And I live in a student house, but it’s not exactly a fun new start.” Laure, incidentally, doesn’t feel really lonely yet, but she goes plenty of days without seeing anyone, and that has to change, she believes.
Start with test events
“I felt a little hurt when I read about test events in theaters and soccer stadiums, for example. Why no tests at universities before a lecture?” In her letter to Prime Minister Rutte, Laure writes that even though these events are a great breakthrough in the corona pandemic, young people like her can only go to these kinds of sporting and cultural events if they know other people. “And you only start to meet people when you sit next to each other in a lecture hall. That’s why I urge the cabinet in my letter to launch pilots in lecture halls.”
Laure also believes that distance learning has a negative impact on the quality of education. “When you see your fellow students, you can ask each other things after class. Talking after class also helps you process what you’ve learned.” In short, a sense of togetherness is important if you wish to successfully complete your studies. “The confirmation that others also don’t always understand everything is of great value as well. With distant learning, I just go on the text next lecture when I don’t understand something. There’s no one I can talk to about it anyway.
Laure sent her letter to Rutte via the prime minister’s department of General Affairs. She still awaits a response. Her father posted the letter on his LinkedIn account, and Laure did the same on Facebook via a public post. “Apart from a few responses, things have remained silent.”
Laure does however feel somewhat heard thanks to the statements made by health minister Hugo de Jonge during a press conference last week. According to the minister, there will be possibilities for higher education if the pressure on hospitals subsides and the number of infections starts to decrease. De Jonge also wants to use rapid testing. “That’s positive news, but the terms being used are still ‘if’ and ‘then.’ That doesn’t offer much perspective.”