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Utrecht student organisations start campaign to curb corona danger

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Utrecht-based students need to become more alert to the risk of corona infections. Administrators of student organisations and their umbrella organisations want to start a campaign to make students aware of this. This is the result of discussions with the mayor and the rector of UU.

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The UU Executive Board welcomes the initiative and promises to help set up the campaign, as can be read in the coronavirus update that was emailed to all students and staff on Friday evening.

The Utrecht student board members are inspired by their Delft colleagues. Due to the increasing number of infections in that city, they started (in Dutch, ed.) an information campaign with the message (in Dutch, ed.) that it is 'five minutes to midnight'.

Virus is making a comeback
Students and employees of UU received the coronavirus update at a time when the press conference (in Dutch, ed.) of Prime Minister Rutte and Minister De Jonge was still in progress. The two ministers were extremely concerned about the spread of the coronavirus in the Netherlands. According to Rutte, the virus is making a "comeback".

The cabinet therefore announced a number of measures for six regions in the Netherlands, including Utrecht, where the situation is most serious. These measures had already been leaked (in Dutch, ed.) on Thursday. These include a mandatory closing time for the hospitality industry and a limitation of the maximum group size for meetings to fifty people.

The measures were unavoidable, according to Rutte and De Jonge. One in 250 Dutch people is now contagious and most new infections occur among young people and students.

Prime Minister Rutte noted that most students are well aware of the need to comply with the measures indeed. Interviews of ministers with student administrators showed, according to him, that "a lot of leadership" is shown. At the same time, he had to acknowledge that things often go wrong as well. He called the partying students in Leiden parks "irresponsible". The rector of Leiden had previously depicted them as 'incredible donkeys' (in Dutch, ed.)

Additional measures
The regions involved can take additional measures themselves, announced Rutte and De Jonge in their press conference. After the press conference, the only thing that could be read on the site of the municipality of Utrecht was that the municipality will continue talks with representatives of all kinds of associations and institutions, including student organisations, in the near future.

Acting mayor Den Oudsten says he understands that young people find it difficult to maintain the corona measures, "especially if you don't know how long it will take, you are uncertain about your studies, job and future, and you are limited in your daily freedom of movement". But he emphasises the importance of complying with the measures. "Only together can we prevent further spread of the virus."

Earlier, after a conversation with the mayor, the Utrechtsch Student Corps already called on its members not to give house parties. The conversation was held after a student was infected during a selection session in one of the houses.

Unrest in case of corona attacks
The UU Executive Board is also making a strong appeal to the students of Utrecht. In the corona update, students are urged to abide by the government's measures, so as not to endanger the health of other vulnerable people, but also to prevent universities from being banned from teaching on campus again.

In addition, the mail that the UU Executive Board sent on Friday offers a lot of information for those with questions about the virus. Not superfluous, because according to the board it often causes a lot of unrest when teachers or students hear that a (fellow) student has tested positive. But on top of that, many students and teachers don't know what to do in different situations. What if your roommate is infected? Or what if he only has a cold?

On the UU website there is therefore since Friday a corona check (pdf) that students and teachers can consult. Based on this, they can determine whether or not they can go to their lecture or to work. The UU website also provides information on what students, lecturers, and supervisors should do if an infection has been detected at the university.

The UU Executive Board closes with a call whose alarming character leaves nothing to be desired. "We call on all our staff and students to take responsibility for keeping our University safe and healthy, and to help contain the coronavirus.”

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