Increasing depression, one-sided science and internal divisions were among the various topics addressed at the demonstration. Those present were not only critical of the current coronavirus policy but had also considered more efficient solutions. “Students don’t dare to speak out for fear of being accused that they only think of themselves.”
'Don't create discord'
Despite the cold and rain, a few hundred supporters gathered at the Dam. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated”, the first speaker, Sara Dol began her speech. With 2.6 million followers on TikTok she had a big reach for her critical comments on the coronavirus policy. “I’m not here to create discord, but I do see how this is created around us. Let’s take care of ourselves instead of living in fear. Because why are the gyms closed at the very time it’s more important than ever that you work on your immune system?”
The speakers included well-known and less well-known coronavirus critics, including Martina Groenveld from YouTube channel Café Weltschmerz and law philosophers Raisa Blommestijn and Eva Vlaardingerbroek. Bas van Bommel, assistant professor of the History of Literature explained how, according to him ‘mass quarantining’ of healthy people goes against science and law student Marijn Rinck made an appeal to keep the discussions open, despite the polarisation. “Start searching for the truth yourself”, he added. “Science is more than just Ab Oosterhaus.”
More efficient solutions
There were also several Erasmus University students among those present, including philosophy student Hnady Abbady. “I’m here because education should be accessible for everyone. That’s a human right”, she said. “In addition, I feel that the collateral damage of the measures is being hugely underestimated. For instance, I’ve seen mental health deteriorate rapidly, also among my co-students. There’s also a huge feeling of powerlessness: students have the idea that they can’t say anything for fear of being accused that they only think of themselves. Many students are not advocates of QR codes and think 2G in education goes too far, but will go along with it if it comes to that.”
Initiator Nawin Ramcharan has organised various demonstrations against the introduction of the CoronaCheck in higher education. Due to the current lockdown, he decided to widen the campaign this time and focus on the collateral damage of the coronavirus policy. “The mental and physical harm in all age categories is highest among the 18-30s”, he explained. “And all that study delay doesn’t make you any happier either. You can’t exercise or socialise anymore, so that escape valve has also been removed. And there’s a lot of anxiety, which makes students feel worse about themselves and their performance deteriorates.”
“Currently there’s only a focus on a higher vaccination level”, he continued. “I think it would be more efficient if the government also considered other variables, such as age, underlying conditions and BMI. The average coronavirus patient on the ICU is 62 years and has a BMI of 29.6 and over half of ICU patients has an underlying condition. Moreover, the policy is currently based on advice from the OMT, which does not include any mental health or educational harm experts. My message to all students is to stand up for yourselves and speak out. I’m also just a simple student but if I hadn’t organised this today, who would have done that?”