Prior to this year’s Eurekaweek, there was a fierce debate. Should the induction week be held at all, considering that the coronavirus infection rate was rising, particularly among students? Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb considered cancelling the event, when it was found in early August that students were partly to blame for the spread of the virus in Rotterdam. In the end, it was the national government that put its foot down regarding universities’ induction weeks: no evening activities to be organised, and no alcohol to be served, either. In Rotterdam most induction activities took place online, apart from one day on which the freshers were shown around the city.
Two weeks after the induction week, it is clear that the Eureka Week activities did not affect the number of infections in Rotterdam. “We have not found any new clusters [of infections] among students, not even in the aftermath of Eurekaweek. The infection rate in students is under control,” said a spokeswoman for GGD.
In early August, a coronavirus outbreak was found in a group of Rotterdam-based medical students. Afterwards, students embarked on a ‘students against coronavirus’ action to remind their fellow students of the social distancing rules and also to curry favour with the Mayor. Later, in the weekend preceding the induction week, EUR announced that 23 students who were members of the SSR student society had tested positive for the virus following a group trip to Greece. “Those clusters, too, are under control,” the spokeswoman told EM.
The same cannot be said for all Dutch student towns. Some forty students have recently tested positive in Tilburg. The infected students belong to “several clusters of larger and small groups of students who were probably infected during several private parties held during the induction week,” the Hart voor Brabant branch of GGD wrote. Contact tracing showed that the students were not infected during induction activities held on the campuses of Tilburg University and Fontys Universities of Applied Sciences. The students who tested positive are self-isolating.
Dertig studenten besmet
For its part, Observant reported that, last Monday, Maastricht had eighteen students who had tested positive. Alarm bells went off in Maastricht after two UM students tested positive last week. They had taken part in UM’s induction activities. According to the Zuid Limburg branch of GGD, the students had been infected “at people’s homes, at parties or drinks nights”. It appears unlikely that the students contracted the virus during the official induction activities. Regional broadcaster 1Limburg announced yesterday that thirty students are known to have contracted the virus in Maastricht.
In Wageningen, seventeen students tested positive in late August. Another seventy were told to self-isolate. The peak coincided with the induction period. Even so, GGD stated that ‘all the students involved contracted the virus at their own student flats’, Resource wrote. Wageningen students who wish to get tested do have one advantage over other students: they don’t have to travel far to do so. A permanent coronavirus testing station has been opened on the university’s campus. It is open to everyone, not just students.