Hundreds of protestors gathered in central Rotterdam to demonstrate their anger at new corona rules to exclude unvaccinated people from certain place. The protest escalated and rioters threw rocks and fireworks, eventually leading up to damaged shopfronts, a police car on fire, and dozens of arrests.

Group chat updates

The city declared a state of emergency and people were told to stay home. Meanwhile, in the EUC building at the Nieuwemarkt, not far from where the riots started, around ten students were keeping up with the news of the protests through class group chats and social media around 9pm.

Rodrigo Huedo, a first-year student, was caught up in his work and had no idea what was going on outside. “I was just told that the guard won’t let you go home, then I saw the group chat and realised how severe the situation was.” Julia Breyer, another first-year student, felt overwhelmed with support between her friends calling her and the group chat. “Everyone in the group chat kept asking us if we were okay, it was really sweet.”

Guard to the rescue

The EUC students in the building had no choice but to stay until the protests outside had died down enough for them to go home. The night guard at EUC was the only person of authority there. “The guard was on the phone the whole time and kept us updated throughout the night”, said Maria Fountoulaki.

The surroundings of the EUC building were quite safe, there were no protests right outside, and the students could not hear any ruckus. It ended up being a cozy night inside the building. “It was kind of funny, the guard just came up to us and brought us a tray of hot chocolate and tea. He said we were going to stay here for a while”, said Julia.

Rocky ride home

The letter students held while walking back.

At around 1 am, the students were permitted to go home. They were told to walk in a group with a piece of paper explaining in Dutch why they were outside. Most EUC first-year students live in the LUCIA building located in Stadhuisplein, which is right across from the City Hall and extremely close to the protests. “We walked home at 1:30 am and that was scary, we saw some police cars and blocked roads , and they were looking at us kinda weird. When we got to the back of our building there were policemen arresting around thirty people in a line”, said Maria.

Thankfully everyone made it home safely without any disruptions, but this was the point of the night where most of them felt unsafe.  They had to cross Coolsingel to make it to LUCIA, where everyone in the building had had a first-hand view of the protests. “I didn’t know whether it was a big deal before going home, but when I was biking back to LUCIA I saw all the cops and everything closed on Coolsingel and that’s when it hit me”, Julia mentioned.