Everything’s allowed, everything’s possible and as a result, everything becomes one big FOMO. Leaving the university with a bunch of stressed-out students. But what’s the solution?

Erasmus University is investing in more care and attention to student welfare. It is turning study areas into living rooms with Chinese money plants along the windowsill. It has set up table football tables, organised constructive talks and has appointed extra psychologists. The university is paying attention to diversity in its various guises and involving the student body in all manner of initiatives. Students are even offered money to organise their own events.

Would you like bees on campus? Let’s get us a beehive then! Need more study areas so you don’t have to study at home? There’s an empty building that we can set up for you!

It’s good to see that the university is trying to adopt a more human scale after a period in which the focus seemed to lie on expanding student intake, promoting excellence and pressuring students to stay on schedule with policies like ‘Nominal=Normal’.

But to which extent should the university actually be considered responsible for students’ welfare? And which message are you sending to students if you start involving yourself as an institution in their personal development?

Because it makes me a bit sad to hear how students register for some project bubbling with enthusiasm and ideas, but don’t even show up the next time or fail to maintain their initial commitment (and don’t even have the decency to tell the others they won’t be coming anymore). Venues booked for some great performance remain half empty, and lunches ordered from the caterer’s are thrown away uneaten.

Although I get it too. There’s so much to do, and it only takes a mouse click to get things done: register for some fascinating lecture (because you’re interested in absolutely everything), participate in a workshop about sustainability (because after all, our generation will need to sort this thing out), arrange a new bike because the old one has a flat tyre (and I definitely don’t have the time to fix it – I need to go to a lecture/workshop) or order food rather than cook yourself (what’s that peel actually for?). It couldn’t be easier.

But if everything’s a cinch, where’s the connection with what you’re doing? As far as student welfare is concerned, I hope the university keeps the following in mind: your finest memories and experiences are usually made after paying your dues.

In the words of Desiderius Erasmus, after whom our university is named: beautiful things are difficult.


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