In front of the Ahoy main entrance, a queue of first-year students stretches for hundreds of metres on Monday, all on their way to the opening ceremony. It takes a long time to get in, as the new students are being carefully checked for a valid QR code at the gates of the event hall.

opening eurekaweek 2021 ahoy foto milena13 (EM)

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In the meantime, student board members, staff and journalists walk in through the stage entrance on the side. They are told at the entrance that they are not allowed to mix with the first-year students. Although there is security at this entrance and the names of the visitors are checked against a guest list, a green tick is not asked after.

Although mingling is not allowed, the invited guests are seated in the same sections of the stands as the first-years. It is also impossible to get to the seats without ending up amongst the long queues of students in the corridors and on the stairs.

Long queues

There are also long queues for the evening programmes. At the Cantus on Tuesday evening, things are not going so smoothly at the entrance. First-year students have to stand in line for over an hour and it is impossible to keep a safe distance.

President Kirsten Prins is also aware that there are long queues. “That is why we encouraged students not to come too early to the events, so we would be able to deal with them right away and there wouldn’t be any bottlenecks,” she says. “Students never had to stand in line for too long anyway, there was always a flow-through.”

Dance floor

The Cantus is the only evening programme that did not have to be changed due to the corona rules, as there was already fixed seating organised. An evening where students sit across from each other around long tables and sing may not sound very sensible (singing is known to be a major contamination risk), but the event did comply with the corona rules. At least until the end of the evening when the rules are forgotten by a part of the audience. More and more students stand up, dance or leave their seats. The board tries in vain to get the students back to their seats. At one point, a board member even threatens to stop the party if the crowd of students does not follow the rules.


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“The fact that we asked students to stay in their seats had nothing to do with corona. Dancing on top of your chair is not allowed at all because it’s dangerous,” Prins now says. “If you follow the RIVM rules, students are allowed to stand as long as they have a designated standing place. But that’s not what we said, we said that everyone had to remain seated. So, the fact that people started standing up, that’s actually not so bad, that would probably still be allowed.”

Full-on festival mode

Eurekaweek_Night of the songs Amber Leijen 2021 (10) (EM)

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The final event of Eurekaweek, the Night of the Songs, also kicks off with strict corona rules. Inside the stadium, students have to stay in their seats, although singing along with everyone is permitted. The evening ends differently: Students climb fences and everyone dances on the track, singing and hugging each other. The board itself does not do very much at that moment, nonetheless, according to Prins, the security guards act quickly to put the situation back under control.

“The rules at the Night of the Songs were the same as they are at football matches. You have a stand and a designated seat. You can stand on your seat and sing along,” Prins points out. She thought the evening went very smoothly. The crew members also went onto the field at the end of the programme and partied along with everyone else in the stands. When asked why the Eurekaweek crew did not keep their distance, Prins says that the staff at an event are not required to keep a one-and-a-half metre distance from each other.

Infection peak

The board believes that Eurekaweek went ‘quite well’. The board members were in close contact with the Safety Region and the Municipal Health Service (GGD). “We had all our plans checked by them and they constantly helped us think about how we could make the week as safe as possible,” says Prins.

Tijdens het laatste half uur van de Night of the Songs werd er volop gedanst.

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Also, the university does understand that it is sometimes difficult to keep crowds under control. But the Eurekaweek board had worked very hard to enforce the rules, according to the EUR. “They appealed to students to be responsible for their own actions and also made a few extra calls to remain in your seats when this was an actual measure,” a spokesperson of the university says.

Is Prins concerned that an infection peak in Rotterdam will happen in ten days’ time? “Not in principle. We worked with Testing for Entry, so the risk of infection is low,” she says. “Of course, it does not mean that the risk is zero. There is always a risk. I’m not saying there won’t be any infections because of Eureka week either, but I don’t think it’s going to be a higher peak than usual.”