after government issues advice
By ADELE MOLTEDO | March 14, 2020
Cover photo: The UvA has canceled all on-campus activities, events and lectures. Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash
As stock markets plummet around the world, Italy enters its third day of lockdown, the US closes its borders with Europe and China starts hoping for the worst to be over, the University of Amsterdam has decided to stop its on-campus activities, events and lectures in response to the recent Coronavirus outbreak.
The central administration of the University of Amsterdam has emailed all students with the details on its most recent decision, which follows the Dutch government’s request for Universities and other higher education facilities to provide educational resources online rather than in person. All events are canceled at the UvA and CREA, and other cultural centers are closed until the end of the month.
The university assures students that there will be only a minimal delay to their study progress as solutions are being worked on by the staff, who are expected to come up with alternatives to offline exams and seminars within the beginning of next week. Therefore, finals could still happen, just in a different format.
Study centers and libraries are expected to stay open for the time being, but events with more than 100 people are canceled throughout the Netherlands following the latest governmental measures, so it is not advisable to spend time in overcrowded spaces: working from home as much as possible seems to be the most prudent thing to do for the time being, in order to protect the groups more vulnerable to the virus.
Bachelor Day, which was supposed to be happening on March 14th, has been postponed to a date yet to be determined, as well as all other large events. Rumor has it that some student councils are going to organize smaller parties, just so the students have some reason to still get out of the house. Cultural student centre CREA also announced on its Instagram account that it is keeping its doors closed until the end of the month.
One early proponent of closing the University was Naomi Di Meo (first year, Media and Culture), an Italian student who published a petition which arrived at around 3.500 signatures in less than 3 days. The petition takes the example of Italy, the hardest-hit European country, and urges the Dutch government to act quickly and to take action in a fast and efficient manner in order to avoid the extreme measures that the Italians have been forced to take. Naomi believes that the initiative was an important one to bring about, since the Netherlands are not immune to the virus and the quicker action is taken, the best results will come out. The petition found broad support among students and staff, and, even if it was not the factor that led the University to finally take more extensive measures, it surely represented a strongly voiced opinion among students.
It is important to remember that this is not a lockdown of the sort that is happening right now in Italy, where shops and public spaces are completely shut down: this is a preventive measure that should work to keep the number of new cases low and avoid driving hospitals to their maximum capacity. For this reason there is no point in running to the supermarket and buying groceries in expectation of a new apocalypse; instead, avoid crowded spaces and stay home in case of a fever, cold or cough.