“This was going to be an important year for us: everything revolved around founding the association. Sadly, the coronavirus had a few plans of its own”, said Fabian Lips, Erasmus Pride’s president. The establishment of the association was postponed for several reasons, one of them being the fact that the articles of association had to be deposited with a notary. However, this week Erasmus Pride registered with the Chamber of Commerce, meaning the society can now get a bank account and start signing up members.
The coronavirus crisis also resulted in the cancellation of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which was supposed to be the highlight of the current academic year for Erasmus Pride. “We’d organised all sorts of activities in the week of the song contest, which had to be cancelled. Quizzes hosted in association with Studium Generale, a viewing party for people who hadn’t been able to buy a ticket to the Eurovision itself, drinks, a huge party for students. It really sucked, because we put a lot of effort into our plans for our first year as a society. On the other hand, when a pandemic hits, what can you do?”
In the meantime, Erasmus Pride did organise a few online activities. “Mainly drinks sessions using Zoom, and last week we had a scavenger hunt in which people had to take challenges in their own homes. That was a lot of fun. Everyone was incredibly competitive.”
Erasmus Pride has been around for a while, but in the last few years, it was just a network, ‘a bit of an empty shell, really’. That looks set to change now. In order to be formally recognised as a student association by the university, the newly founded society will have to sign up fifty members. So as far as Lips is concerned, that will be the main objective for the coming year.
Eurekaweek and Rotterdam Pride, in particular, will be important moments for the recruitment of members, says Lips. “Yes, Eurekaweek will be interesting, because we haven’t done much in the last few months. Moreover, many international students have returned home. We’re finding it hard to gauge whether people wish to join a new society at this time. And on top of that, we’re a new association without a promotion budget. The budget that larger societies normally spend on bouncy castles and parties will now be spent on online marketing. What with them doing so much advertising, it will be hard for us to get noticed.”
Thankfully, the Rotterdam Pride Parade will be held in September. Last year, for the first time, Erasmus Pride organised several activities during the annual Pride week to celebrate sexual diversity in Rotterdam. The association hopes to do the same again this year. “It’s important that Rotterdam be properly represented by LGBT+ students,” says Lips. “If you’re an LGBT+ person looking for your place in society, Pride is for you. But we also welcome other students – for instance, those who want to learn more about the LGBT+ community.”
In addition to organising fortnightly drinks sessions and other social activities, Erasmus Pride hopes to focus on spreading knowledge about LGBT+ issues. “For instance, guest lectures on LGBT+ rights or gender diversity, or information evenings about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV/AIDS – ed.) or sex education at secondary schools.”