UU Executive Board: 'we are not going to rent cinemas and theaters'

No lectures at TivoliVredenburg. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Michiel de Roo

"I don't think it is very likely that we're going to rent large rooms for lectures.” Rector Henk Kummeling sounded resolute on Monday when student councilor Stephan Verhulst asked him to look for locations where UU students would be able to receive physical education again, in a Corona-proof way.

Verhulst asked for more attention to be paid to the welfare of students, who, in his view, are being severely affected by the lack of joint education. According to him, other Dutch universities, such as Radboud University, are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by external locations. Earlier this month, students organized a partly online demonstration to call for more physical education. "Is UU going to put effort into this as well?”, Verhulst asked.

Kummeling thinks that the UU should first focus on finding ways to teach as “efficiently” as possible within its own premises. This means that, initially, the University is going to prioritize small-scale forms of work with an eye on community building, especially for first-year students. "It makes little sense to bring students together in theaters or cinemas for instructional education, considering giving lectures online is the easiest thing to do.”

In addition, the rector is wary of the risks large gatherings could offer to students: after all, they may cause more infections. He noted that many teachers are afraid as well. DUB has recently asked its panel whether more physical education would be desirable and found a great divide between teachers and students regarding this matter. "To be honest, I have the impression that most students are not interested in big lectures in TivoliVredenburg at the moment either," said Rector Kummeling.

Stephan Verhulst disagrees. According to him, it has now been sufficiently proven that students are eager for education at the University. "You should ask the Dutch Student Union (LSVb). But, as a student group, we also notice it ourselves: this is on students’ minds,” he said during the meeting. He added that other universities aren’t using external locations for lectures only. "It's possible, it's already happening elsewhere and it's a pressing matter.”

Rector Kummeling replied that he is open to continue discussing the subject, but he is not yet convinced at the moment.