Stella Verbrugge, the head of Student Administration, can’t say just how much extra work the closure of the Polak building has created for the timetabling office. It’s been busy there for quite some time now. It was a major job converting the timetables from an online schedule to a hybrid schedule. And the maximum group size of 75 people also created a lot of additional work. 20 percent of the timetable had to be changed to accommodate that requirement. There has been a ‘significant increase in work pressure’ with both the Tinbergen and Polak buildings closed. “That’s just how it is, but I do feel sorry for them”, says Verbrugge.

studenten polakgebouw scheuren vloer ontruiming – esther dijkstra

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Polak building closed immediately due to cracks in floors

The Polak building on campus Woudestein was evacuated and closed immediately on Friday…

Study spaces

The available study spaces in the University Library fill up quickly, just like all the other spaces. Strategic Management student Matteo spends his time these days studying in the C-hall. Normally he would prefer to be in the Polak building. Sameeksha (Economics and Econometrics) also says it’s difficult to find a spot now: “Everyone is trying to look in other buildings to see if there’s a study space available there.” If you really try, you’ll eventually find a study space, says Matteo. But it’s hard finding a space where you can work on assignments together with your classmates. “And everyone is either going to a lecture or leaving one in these buildings, so it’s difficult to concentrate”, concludes Sameeksha.

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Hairdresser

The telephone is ringing off the hook at Lydia’s hair salon. Her business is located on the ground floor of the Polak building. “We were fully booked right at the end of the summer”, she says. “I also have a lot of regular customers who don’t work or study on campus and they only find out I’m closed when they arrive at the hair salon. I’m getting messages until late into the night from customers telling me to hang in there. It’s a big deal coming on top of a year and a half of Covid-19 and an empty campus.” It was even reason enough for one customer to pamper Lydia: “You’ve been through enough, come have dinner at my place tonight’, she said to me. I’ve been cutting her hair for 22 years now, from the time she studied at EUR.”

In stark contrast to the number of messages the business owner from the Polak building has received from her customers, she has heard very little from the university. “I haven’t heard anything at all. They probably don’t know anything either. I’ll just schedule all my appointments for after 26 September.”

She came to the campus this past Monday at 10 with a few other business owners to gather some things. Security showed up in no time and said that she was not permitted to enter the building under any circumstances. “Oh well. Fortunately, I wasn’t as overwhelmed by the closure this time around. Not like 4 years ago. And I’m lucky because I know my customers will return.”

Video recordings

Almost all the scheduled video recordings of the lectures, webinars and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the Polak building’s studio have been relocated, says ICT specialist Ramon Bovenlander. “We had just dismantled the studio next to the Aula and now it’s been rebuilt by our technical services colleagues. The Pavilion offered us space to record webinars there and we’ve also contacted colleagues in Delft. If we need to, we can schedule our recordings there. Two appointments were cancelled by the customers themselves and the rest have been transferred to other locations.” Recordings for the larger lectures can proceed as planned as these are usually made in the lecture halls on campus.

“You have to come up with creative solutions when you face a situation like this”, says Bovenlander. “Now we’re going to record the scheduled MOOC on diversity in football either at Erasmus Sport or at football club Excelsior.”

Bovenlander reaches for his phone while talking about creative solutions. “I was walking around outside just after the Polak building closed and I saw a lecturer continue his lecture outside. He just opened his laptop and got to work. That’s a creative solution too.”