Liveblog – Student counseling continues online and buildings close earlier

24 Mar 2020

Read the latest news on the corona-crisis at Radboud University here. After all events until the 1st of June had been cancelled on Tuesday, physical forms of exams and lessons have now followed.

Monday, 30st of March

11.15 a.m. The campus has, a hand full of employees and students aside, emptied. Because of that, the university has decided on adapted opening times of the buildings. Except the rented buildings, all buildings will open at 8.30 a.m. and close at 4.30 p.m. beginning today. The Central Library is open until 3.30 p.m. and only for lending books.

10.30 a.m. The university is offering adapted student counseling during the corona-period. A course with webinars, e-learning and advise on how to study in times of corona has been put on Brightspace. Tomorrow, on the 31st of March at 3.00 p.m., a webinar about this topic will take place. Student advisors, student deans, career advisors, and student trainers continue to be availably. But via phone or internet only.

Wednesday, 25th of March

7.15 p.m. The World University Championship Cycling, which was supposed to be held in Nijmegen from the 9th to the 14th of June, is cancelled. Organisers write this in a press release. Together with the FISU, the international university sports federation, the organizing committee is looking at options to reschedule the event. ‘June 2021 seems the best option for all parties involved,’ says one of the organisers.

4.00 p.m. When law student Mienke de Wilde found out that face masks were scarce and the Belgian government encouraged people to make their own, she asked a family. member who teaches sewing for help. Together, they invited 35 seamstresses. Last weekend, they started sewing for several home care organizations. ‘I do have to say that these face masks aren’t a real alternative for the official ones,’ explains De Wilde. ‘Only when there are no other options will they be used in home care.’ The club has now affiliated itself with the central group Mondkapjes Maken Nederland.

Go to Vox’s Instagram page for a tutorial by seamstress Willia Jacobs.

01.46 p.m. What about the orientation week? Dionne Aldus, the coordinator of the event, says that no decisions have been made yet. According to her, figuring out long-distance learning and testing has priority for the university right now. ’The orientation week is in August. We are obviously thinking about it, but we will continue to seriously talk about it next week.’

Radboud University has been organising an Intro-festival in Goch during the past two years, where 4,000 students are partying and sleeping in close proximity to each other. And also the registration at the first day of the orientation week with 5,000 students is a large event. The sports days are counting 2,500 people on two days each. Aldus: ’Yes, those are large groups in times of corona. It’s on our radar.’

11.50 a.m. Radboud University’s Bachelor and Master Open Days cannot take place due to the corona-crisis. Instead, two virtual open days will take place: on the 9th of April for international students and on the 29th of April for Dutch-speaking students.

Foto: Dick van Aalst

The university has organised virtual open days for international students three times before: in February and December 2019 and in February 2020. ’Every time, we reached approximately 500 students who watched lectures and presentations for a day and chatted’, says Liz Bouten from the Marketing and Communication department, who organised the open days. ’Originally, we didn’t want to organise another virtual open day, but webinars and specific presentations and q&a sessions with current students instead. But because of the corona-ciris, we decided to organise a real virtual open day.’

Following the virtual open day for international students, the university now also decided to organise a similar programme for Dutch students. That will take place on the 29th of April. ’There will be presentations about the Bachelor programmes in the morning and about the Master programmes in the afternoon’, according to Bouten.

Can a virtual open day replace a real one? ’Not 100 percent’, says Bouten. ’There is obviously less interaction. On a real open day, you can get a feeling of how it is to actually study at an university. That is a bit more difficult online. Which is why we will primarily focus on the content of the programmes.’

11.33 a.m. All physical forms of education on campus have been cancelled until the 1st of June. That has just been announced by Radboud University. The end of long-distance learning had been set on the 6th of April until now. All exams have to be admitted online during this period as well. ’Should the government measures be relaxed in the near future, we will assess which activities can return to the campus’, writes the executive board of Radboud University in a mail to all students and employees.

Tuesday, 24th of March

04.00 p.m. Students and teachers from the History, Art History and Greek and Latin Language and Culture department can follow an online symposium over the topic ’Resilience in times of crisis. Leadership, imagination, and experience from the old times until the present’ upcoming Friday and on Thursday the 9th of April. The program includes different 20-minutes lectures about epidemics and other crises from the last two-thousand years. Examples are the Antonine Plague in Roman society (Olivier Hekster), the role of the Oranjes in the nineteenth century (Fons Meijer), as well as resistance and solidarity in Jewish ghettos (Remco Ensel).

’This way, students can stay in contact with their teachers during these extraordinary times’, says professor for Cultural History and organiser of the symposium Jan Hein Furnée. ’It is very important that education continues, but it is also important to consider the corona-crisis and understand what our field can add value-wise. How can people from the department of Arts add to the better understanding of this situation?’

The symposium is taking place in the virtual classroom on Brightspace, with space for 150 participants. ’It is obviously the idea to talk with each other after every lecture’, says Furnée. ’Participants can chat and ask questions to the speakers. They can exchange book, movie, and additional recommendations with each other on the website. The idea is that we as an academic community can develop new perspectives and insights: resilience through depth.’

01.44 p.m. Because all gatherings have been forbidden until the 1st of June, also the Batavierenrace will not take place this year. ’It’s a shame, obviously, but we saw it coming’, reacted the organisation’s Erkan Mercimek who had been working for a year towards the race on the 1st of May. I think, I’m speaking for the entire organisation, when I say that we’re all feeling quite empty inside. But now we have to take care that the cancellation will go over smoothly, so next year’s organisers will know what to do. It is a sad, but also a very unique moment.’

In its 48-year-old history, the Batavierenrace had been cancelled only once before. 2001, due to another infectious disease that had Europe in its grip: the foot-and-mouth disease. Moving the race further ahead in the year, doesn’t make sense, according to Mercimek. ’That’s an impossible task. Because it’s a moving event, we need to get a lot of permits. We would have to re-apply for all of that.’

12.00 a.m. The Radboud Sports Centre is offering workshops via YouTube, so people can stay active while being on lockdown at home. As of now, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Power Flow, Vinyasa Yoga en Mobility Drill workshops have been put online. Additionally, the Sports Centrum has also released two training schemes for home.

11.38 a.m. Students who will encounter problems due to the closing of the study work spaces at the library, for example because they don’t have their own computer, can reach out to the ICT-help desk. As of now, there are no ready-to-go solutions, according to a help desk employee, but questions will be collected. ’We will then try to find a solution for everyone. It could, for example, be a possibility that we will lent laptops to students. As of now, to my best knowledge, no-one has reached out to us yet.’

10.50 a.m. If everything goes as planned, students will be informed by their teachers how and if their exams will take place in the third period today. If you should not get notified — either via Brightspace or mail —, you can reach out to your study. Vox is also interested in your experience with alternative forms of testing — let us know about it on social media.

Monday, 23rd of March

09.30 p.m. Students won’t be able to use the work spaces at the Central Library anymore. With this decision, the university is following the tightened government measures, including an assembly ban. Books can, nevertheless, still be lent. Additionally, all events on campus until the 1st of June have been cancelled — including festivities like Radboud Rocks as well as academic events like Ph.D. defenses. What the newly implemented measures mean for education on campus, is not clear yet.

04.30 p.m. From tomorrow onwards, only the Central Library will continue to stay open. The other libraries will stay closed. Additionally, the library stated on its website that services will be limited. The service point and the ICT Service point will be closed from tomorrow onwards.

01.45 p.m. The mayor of Nijmegen Hubert Bruls is angry. It bothers him that many people are not following the government’s advise and are still meeting in large groups without keeping the necessary distance. ’The athletic grounds have been closed areas for a week’, Bruls told De Gelderlander. ’Still, people are climbing over the hedges. We have warned enough, now we are fining.’ A ban on gathering for parks and recreational areas is a possibility.

01.00 p.m. Columnist PH Neutraal didn’t notice the consequences of the coronavirus that much at the beginning of this month. That has changed now quite a bit, he writes in his new column.

11.36 a.m. A clarification concerning the BSA-guidelines change that has been announced last Thursday: students who are facing delay because of the coronavirus will receive a so-called continuing advise (‘aanhouden advies’). That means that they will be given time until the end of their second study year in order to achieve all 60 credits of their first study year (this study year). The cases of students who have already received a continuing advise at an earlier point will be reviewed individually.

Additionally applies that students who fulfill the BSA-norms of their program will receive a regular positive study advise, just as they normally would.

10.32 a.m. There won’t be physical forms of exams during the week of the 6th of April – the last week of the third study period – as well. Tests will be given, insofar possible, from a distance. If that is not possible, they will be postponed. Students will be informed in detail until Tuesday latest. The university additionally announced that students will have to expect possible long-distance learning during the fourth study period as well.

Friday, 20th of March

04.55 p.m. The Nijmegen-based student organisation Ovum Novum is starting a big relief action for the elderly in Nijmegen. ’You can’t go out for groceries yourself, because it is saver for you to stay inside? We would like to help you!’, writes the organisation in a press statement. ’Throughout the entire day, there are a dozen volunteers available that can help with grocery shopping, picking up medicine or other things.’ People who would like some help can make contact by phone via 024-360 69 29 (Monday to Friday between 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.) or via mail at info@ovumnovum.nl.

03.15 p.m. The Grotius building will not be open during the upcoming weekends and there won’t be any catering at the Huygens building anymore. That has been stated by a spokesperson of the university’s crisis management team. Because all other restaurants and cafés as well as the Spar have closed as well, there are now no more places to buy food on campus.

01.41 p.m. The Faculty of Science, Mathematics and Informatics donated fifty lab coats to general practitioners in Brabant. Reason for that has been the lack of protective clothing for doctors in the region. The clothing helps the GPs to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus.

11.10 a.m. ’What will happen to the left over food at the university now that it has been closed?’, asked student Sander van der Goes on Twitter.

The university didn’t wait long with their response. ’Everything that is now left over, will be donated to a food bank.’

10.50 a.m. Why is the University Library still open? On Friday, professor for Historical Dutch Literature Johan Oosterman has asked on Facebook how responsible the opening still is. Other universities have already closed their libraries. The Nijmegen-based professor for Infectious Diseases Andreas Voss told Vox that opening the library for people is still responsible, as long as they keep an adequate distance.

’Surveillants have to go around and remind students that they can’t sit close to each other.’ The University Library is currently handling a maximum of 198 visitors distributed over different halls. Inside, the RIVM rules apply. Voss: ’I think that that’s reasonable. I stand behind the policy of our prime minister. But it only works if everyone is following the rules. Keep your distance and stay at home if you have cold-like symptoms! People have to understand that we are not dealing with some kind of flu. I hope – and I’m convinced – that the students in Nijmegen are taking this situation serious.’

Foto: Rein Wieringa

10.15 a.m. Look at the different layers of paintings by Jheronimus Bosch, make your own DNA, and train your computer to distinguish between different pictures. In order to help parents, now at home with their children, with homeschooling, the Wetenschapsknooppunt Nijmegen (WKRU) has made a top ten list of educational and scientific activities that can be easily done by everyone.

09.49 a.m. Can animals get corona? Interesting question. The magazine of Wageningen University, Resource, has researched it. The answer: there is no evidence that animals could get infected with the virus.

Thursday, 19th of March

08.05 p.m. Students who won’t reach the BSA-norm because of the coronavirus will be offered an extension. They will have the opportunity to reach the norm during the study year 2020-2021. That has been announced by the government. The report additionally stated that students will be able to increase their DUO loan and apply for a tuition credit.

07.50 p.m. One Nijmegen resident has died because of the coronavirus, according to the GGD Gelderland-Zuid. Mayor Hubert Bruls has offered his deepest condolences.

02.15 p.m. After the University of Leiden, now also the University of Maastricht has stopped physical forms of education until the end of this academic year. That has been announced by the Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau. Both universities are keeping their options open: should it become possible to come together after the 1st of May, seminars could perhaps take place again.

01.20 p.m. The frugal students and employees that are still on campus can forget hot frikandel- and cheese-snacks in the near future. The Spar at the Erasmusplein will close on Monday, until at least the 6th of April.

In de Spar op de universiteit is nog gewoon wc-papier te krijgen. Foto: Vox

’You can see how empty it is’, says on of the shop-employees. ’When the students come back to campus, we are going to open again as well. That’s dependent on the university.’ Physical forms of education have been shut down until the 6th of April earliest, all restaurants and cafés have closed.

11.53 a.m. The Landelijke Studentenvakbond (LSVb) is worried about students getting in financial trouble because of the coronavirus throughout the upcoming weeks. President Alex Tess Rutten is asking universities and landlords to act accommodatingly concerning payments. LSVb has heard a lot of stories from students who have been dismissed or whose flex contract hasn’t been renewed.

The student association is in contact with rental agencies. ’When even the revenue office can stop payments, social housing companies can as well.’ (Source: UKrant)

11.20 a.m. The University of Leiden has announced that they will not give physical forms of education until the end of this academic year. Also exams will not be taken in physical forms anymore, writes the university magazine Mare. The academic year runs until (and including) the 31st of August. Drastic measures like these haven’t been implemented in Nijmegen yet. As of now, it is not clear how physical forms of education after the 6th of April will continue at Radboud University.

Foto: Universiteit Leiden

11.00 a.m. Athletes won’t have to pay the subscription fee for March at the closed Radboud Sports Centre. That has been stated in an email sent out by the Sports Centre’s director Rob Cuppen this morning. The money would have normally been collected this week. The Sports Centre, which has been closed since the 13th of March, will for now remain closed until the 6th of April. If the Sports Centre stays closed after the 6th of April, athletes won’t have to pay for this period, during which they can’t use the facilities, as well. Some sport teachers are meanwhile exploring possibilities to give lessons in a different way — the Sports Centre will share online lessons here once they are getting published.

Wednesday, 18th of March

04.30 p.m. People who get stuck writing their thesis or other texts can, also during times without physical forms of education, receive free help from a writing coach. The coaches from the Radboud Writing Lab are now offering their services online, via Skype. Students who are using the service have been positive about it, according to writing-coach and master student Marieke Korsten. ’For many, using Skype is new. But after a few minutes, everyone gets used to it.’ She sees that students are worried whether — and if, when — their exams are going to take place. She is advising them to continue working on their written tasks. ’So they have more time to prepare for the exams later on’, Korsten explains. ’Written tasks can be done at home as well. And if you get stuck with them, we’re here to help.’

04.15 p.m. After professor for Dutch and Academic Communications Marc van Oostendorp, now also the philosopher and director of the Radboud Teaching and Learning Centre Jan Bransen has recorded some quarantine-colleges. Topic: trust in science and philosophy.

04.00 p.m. Also our Vox-editors need to improvise in times of corona. An interview with the rector is enforcedly taking place via Skype.

Foto: Vox

03.30 p.m. Because of the corona-crisis, also the language courses of Radboud In’to Languages couldn’t take place last week. ’But we have good news’, is written in a mail to all In’to course participants. ’We are trying as hard as we can to give, if possible, the courses online from Monday the 23rd on.’

12.14 a.m. Some cafés and restaurants are selling gift cards with which they hope to compensate for their loss in business. According to De GelderlanderDe Hemel, De Pilgrim, and Hotel Credible are handing out gift cards. While the worth of them is 50€, customers are paying 40€. ’We have received a lot of positive feedback. On Saturday, we have sold 35, Sunday and Monday as well, as of now approximately 100 gift cards in total’, says restaurant-owner Selma de Roo. A lot of restaurants and cafés have also implemented take-away and delivery-services. The Facebook-page Thuisbezorgd Nijmegen has meanwhile listed around 20 restaurants in Nijmegen that are happy to prepare a delicious menu.

10.45 a.m. On the construction site of the Maria Montessori building, work is continuing to finish the new home of the Social Science Faculty. But for how long? Projectmanager Geert Jansen from the University’s property enterprise has not received clear signals from the developer that planning will be affected by the coronavirus.

Foto: Rein Wieringa

Jansen: ’But it is obviously to be expected that Bouwend Nederland, and consequentially also this construction project, will be influenced by the coronavirus. Builders are getting sick or are staying at home because of symptoms. What the long-term consequences are going to be? I can’t tell at the moment.’

08.45 a.m. More news from the hospital. Scientists from Radboudumc and UMC Utrecht are investigating if medical staff is better protected against the coronavirus after a tuberculosis vaccine. This vaccine does not explicitly protect against the coronavirus, but provides a boost to the immune system. Because of that, it could possibly provide a better protection against the coronavirus, through which the infection is following a less severe course. The research has been approved by the Medisch-Ethische Toetsingscommissie and is supposed to be realised with thousands of employees from Radboudumc, UMC Utrecht and some other hospitals. One half of the employees will receive the real vaccine, the other half a placebo. If the vaccine turns out to provide a better protection, it will be offered to other employees as well.

08.15 a.m. Within a week, an old care taking ward of Radboudumc has been remodeled into a corona-ward. Until recently, the ward has been used as a practice room for students and employees. ’This ward can now be used by patients who are coming into the E.R. and are awaiting the results of their corona-test’, said caretaker specialist Claudia van Opstal to de Gelderlander. Corona-patients can stay for a maximum of 72 hours in the corona-ward.

Tuesday, 17th of March

09.00 p.m. All exams that were supposed to be taken on campus until the 6th of April have been cancelled. That was just announced by university. However, starting on the 28th of March, alternative forms of testing will be implemented. Students will be informed whether this will apply to courses they are following until the 24th of March. The medical faculty will follow different rules. Those will be announced in the course of this week.

Additionally, Dutch universities are now collectively reviewing whether the required Binding Study Advise (BSA) can deviate. There will follow more information about this throughout this week.

02.30 p.m. CoronaCollege is going online. The Universiteit van Nederland that is offering the lectures on its page, is currently uploading the first lecture. Initiator Marc van Oostendorp is taking the lead himself.

02.00 p.m. Because the Radboud Sports Centre is closed, instructor Hanka Venselaar gives her Stretch Class this afternoon at 05.00 p.m. on Instagram.

Mohamed AboLilah on Skype

12.17 a.m. The Egyptian student Mohamed AboLilah (27), a Buiding Engineering student from Milan, learned just how helpful Nijmegen students are in times of crisis. Through the Facebook group for international students, he was looking for a temporary place to stay, because he is stuck in The Netherlands.

In February, AboLilah decided to take a trip after his exams. He was in Belgium when he heard that his classes would only be digital for a while. ‘I discussed the situation with my family in Egypt and decided it was safer to stay with a friend in Arnhem for a while,’ he says. ‘It did not sound safe and I could take my classes online anyway.’ Not long after that, the country went in lockdown. ‘I did check if I could go back, but flights and busses are cancelled or extremely expensive,’ he says. ‘I also do not really know what would happen if I do make it back to Italy.’

So AboLilah was looking for a place to stay here. He was offered quite a lot of places from students who go to their home country to escape the crisis. Now, he can stay in a room in a students’ house. ‘It might get a bit boring, without friends and family,’ he says. ‘But I try to keep myself busy. I saw there are a lot of forests here, so I will take long walks.’ If there are other students who are stuck in Nijmegen, he would like to meet them. ‘I don’t know how long this will take, it might be nice to meet people.’

12.10 a.m. Students who are following the beginner’s photography course of student association for photographers De Cycloop can’t leave their house anymore. The lessons are now being streamed via YouTube where students can ask live questions and react to each others photos.

Fotografievereniging De Cycloop geeft cursus via YouTube

In order to make up for the cancelled activities, the association has thought of a challenge: take a picture every day, for 21 days, always with a specific topic such as ’toilet paper’ or ’stockpiling.’

11.35 a.m. Visitors of university buildings have to register themselves in writing beginning today. An employee is sitting at the entrances and jots down name and workplace. ’A lot of people are now working from home’, says spokesperson Martijn Gerritsen. ’The emergency response workers as well. If, for example, there is fire in one building, it’s good to know how many people are inside that need to be evacuated. Besides the guidelines we’re following because of the coronavirus, we also need to be prepared for other situations.’

Because of that, Angela Christanti is sitting at the entrance of the Thomas van Aquinostraat 1 with a magazine to kill some time. ’I usually prepare pizzas and other meals at the Refter. Now I’m sitting here.’ She hopes that the Refter can be opened again soon. ’This is unbelievably boring.’

11.28 a.m. It’s the second home office day for the Vox editors. We are doing our utmost best to keep you informed about the corona-news affecting Radboud University students and employees from our offices at home (one colleague is still at the Vox office). But reporting the news from a distance is obviously always more difficult.

Vox-overleg via Skype dinsdagochtend

We are asking you: did you see or hear anything that Vox should report on? Then send us a scoop! For example sympathetic initiatives of students like doing groceries for the elderly or ideas how working and studying from home can be optimised. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Or via redactie@vox.ru.nl. For the latest news: keep an eye on this liveblog.

10.30 a.m. Rector Han van Krieken wishes strength and success to all Radboud University students and employees in a video message on Twitter. ’These are difficult times for the Netherlands and for everyone at Radboud University. Together we are trying at Radboud University to take measures and action as much as we can to allow life, studying and research to continue. At the same time, we realise that it’s hard, especially for our international students who are far from home and their families. You may have a part to play for those colleagues and students with respect to lifting their spirits.’

Monday, 16th of March

4.30 p.m. Campus is mostly empty. There are about 50 students in one of the halls of the university library. In the Huygens building, people took out their plants to make it easier to water them. Students give advice on Instagram about what to do when staying at home. University lecturer Martijn de Koning gives advice on Twitter about digital education.

2.15 p.m. Crisis or not, plants need water every day. Because of that, researchers at the Proeftuin, the greenhouse-complex behind the Huygensbuilding, have implemented a schedule: someone is coming to water the plants every morning. ’Besides that, there is no research taking place at the moment’, says caretaker Koos Janssen. What the consequences for the research will be, Janssen cannot tell. ’But I can imagine that the finishing of internships (of Biology students, red.) could be at risk.’

1.45 p.m. The corona crisis is challenging on a personal level for columnist Luciënne van der Geld — also known as Lucy’s Law: she has to cook herself. Much more than she would like to. ’The restaurants are closed, the supermarkets swiped empty’, she writes, a good opportunity to ’give another chance’ to her recently purchased hand blender.

1.00 p.m. Usually, John Coppes works as a doorman at the Linnaeusbuilding. With its big lecture halls, the building is often used for lessons. Except, now it isn’t. Because of that, Coppers is helping out at the Central Library, which remains open. He is standing at the entrance with a counting machine in order to register every student entering and leaving the building. In total, 180 people are allowed in – distributed over the two halls that remain open. ’That way, we are neatly following Rutte’s rules’, says regular Central Library-doorman Frank de Kiefte. Today, Coppers and de Kiefte did not have to deny entrance to any student, the library is quite empty.

11.45 a.m. The university will possibly adjust the guidelines for the Binding Study Advice (BSA). This has been agreed upon in consultation with other universities, as stated in a mail to students and employees. In order to receive a positive BSA and being able to continue with their studies, first-year students have to obtain a sufficient amount of credits. At Radboud University, this amount is fixed between 39 and 45 EC-points, depending on the study. The university will announce how and if the BSA-guidelines are going to change later this week.

11.15 a.m. The Vox editors are following the corona guidelines as well. That means our office in the Thomas van Aquinostreet 1 is almost completely empty: not more than one person is present to take phone calls and answer mails. But the journalistic work is obviously continuing. Do you have tips, suggestions, or questions that Vox should attend to? Don’t hesitate to mail, phone or message us.

De (lege) redactie van Vox. Foto: Vox

10.45 a.m. The measures Radboud University is taking against the coronavirus have been extended by one week. That means that neither education nor exams will take place on campus until (and including) the 6th of April. Students and employees have to work as much as possible from home, unless not feasible.

De Refter, Het Gerecht, and other places serving food or drinks on campus are closed. Only one place in the Huygensbuilding where people can get food is still open. The Spar stays open from 8.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. as well.

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