After all, Eurekaweek is synonymous with first-year students hanging out at the societies’ outdoor seating areas. At the very least, the societies will provide food, drinks and some music; in extreme cases, they may also provide a giant jacuzzi or a professional DJ. The societies tend to pull out all the stops in order to recruit new members among freshers. “To us, this is the best way to show off the vibe of everything our society has on offer,” says Laurentius’ Tristan Gayral.

Except this year the majority of societies probably won’t be allowed to host their outdoor activities. In normal times, the municipal authorities issue the societies with a special-event permit allowing them to create outdoor seating areas. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, the Cabinet has decided that no such permits will be issued until 1 September, even though regular cafés and restaurants have recently been permitted to increase the size of their outdoor seating areas, even expanding into the public space.

Decks in front of premises

RSG’s Fleur Doolaard says: “We will not get the usual permit this year. We’re looking into alternative strategies. Rotterdam has an arrangement allowing cafés and restaurants to install decks in front of their premises, free of charge.” The presidents of RSC-RVSV and SSR-R confirmed that their societies, too, had been told they will not be issued with a special-event permit.

Earlier, SSR president Jelle Mooij said on Erasmus TV that the problem was ‘annoying’. “For us, too, Eurekaweek is the most important week of the year. It’s a pity the municipal authorities won’t allow us to create outdoor seating areas. And it’s annoying, because the outdoor seating areas we create are no different from the regular seating areas that can be found all over the city. The only difference is that we use the public space rather than our own private premises.”

rsg eurekaweek 2019 fabienne hoogendoorn (3)
RSG’s outdoor seating area during the 2019 Eurekaweek. Image credit: Fabienne Hoogendoorn

The battle is not over yet for NSR and Laurentius. NSR has not yet been issued with a decision, and according to Tristan Gayral, Laurentius has not yet been formally denied permission to create an outdoor seating area by the municipal authorities. “We are still discussing things to see if we can be exempted from the ban on special events, or if an alternative solution can be found. We hope to hear more about that soon.”

The Skadi rowing club will be allowed to set up its own outdoor seating area because it is able to do so on its own premises.

Questions raised with Council

Elene Walgenbach, a councillor representing D66, has asked the Mayor and Municipal Executive questions about the upcoming Eurekaweek. She wrote: “D66 has found that many student societies are unsure about the exact nature of the coronavirus restrictions and how they relate to the 2020 Eurekaweek.” Among other things, she has asked the Mayor and Municipal Executive to allow societies to host information markets and create their own outdoor seating areas.

A spokesperson for alderman Said Kasmi (D66, Education portfolio) stated that the questions raised by Walgenbach in writing will be discussed by the Mayor and Municipal Executive this week, and that the Executive will be able to inform societies afterwards on the restrictions governing this year’s Eurekaweek, and on what can and cannot be done in these extraordinary times.

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