Last week RSG and SSR shared a €5,000 prize for the best idea to convince students to comply with the coronavirus restrictions. Inspired by the initiative, the Rotterdam Chamber of Associations (RKvV) decided to get started on carrying out the most easily feasible idea: distributing coronavirus care packages to student flats.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb attended the occasion. Along with Puck de Waal and Lotte van den Bergh, the President and Secretary of RKvV, the Mayor hung up an eye-catching red sign in the window of a student flat in Kralingse Zoom. It bears the legend: ‘Together against coronavirus. This is a student flat, and we respect the rules.’ Those present then unpacked the package. Among other things, it contained face masks, all-purpose cleaner and several stickers with texts such as: ‘keep at least 13 cans of beer’s distance’.


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The contents of the corona care package Image credit: Milena Chopova

Laura Nieberg, who is doing a master in Quantitative Finance, thought it was quite an honour that her student flat was the first in Rotterdam to receive the coronavirus care package. “I think it’s a good idea for the municipality to collaborate with students rather than impose rules top-down,” she said. “We students have some good ideas ourselves as to how to stop the spread of the virus, and we have the best understanding of student life, as we are actually living it.”

Laura and her seven flatmates keep a close eye on the latest coronavirus news. “It’s affecting our daily lives quite a bit. We keep a close eye on symptoms and we check week after week what we can and can’t do in terms of meeting people, and we all stick to the rules. We all had to quarantine once, all of us at the same time. It was pretty hard not to talk to anyone face to face for ten days. We were quite literally isolated. I’m very glad the university offers online teaching, so at least we have things to do every day.”

Creative solutions

RKvV’s Lotte and Puck are glad that the Mayor is open to the initiatives proposed by students. “Students need a place where they can meet their friends, without losing sight of the restrictions,” says Lotte. “We hope this action will convince people that we students do believe it’s important that the number of infections be reduced.”

As far as solutions are concerned, she suggests that more places be made available where students can get together in a safe way. “The restrictions are understandable, but now that get-togethers are prohibited, people are more likely to meet at each other’s homes, which makes it a lot harder to keep an eye on them. There are a lot of large rooms that are currently vacant. It would be great if we could use those and organise some drinks sessions there.”

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Image credit: Milena Chopova

Enjoying a drink at the museum

Mayor Aboutaleb is glad that students are coming up with ideas of their own as to how to reduce the infection rate. “It’s good to look at the things that are allowed,” his spokesperson told us. “Last week someone suggested on Eva Jinek’s talk show that museums be made available as alternative meeting venues. Pubs close at 10pm, but museums don’t, so why can’t we have a drinks session at a museum?”