It is expected that student societies will be allowed to hold informative sessions to recruit new members after all. The cabinet didn’t want to allow this, but the Lower House has insisted on it. The number of coronavirus cases among young people has increased a lot this summer, so the cabinet decided to tighten up the rules for the introduction weeks in higher education.
While the new rules have allowed student sports and study associations to run introductory activities, the social student societies were out of luck: they had to do everything online this year, Prime Minister Rutte announced on 6 August. The Lower House of Parliament thought this was a strange distinction to make. Why should one society be allowed to bring groups of students together, and another one not?
On the House’s insistence, the safety regions responsible for measures discussed this issue again and decided that student societies should also be allowed to run face-to-face activities, as long as they focus on studies or sport, or on the recruitment and orientation of new members.
So, no drinks parties or hazing ceremonies, confirms a spokesperson for the Safety Council, but things like a guided tour of the society’s clubhouse or an informative talk about the various committees are allowed. And the same strict rules apply to the student societies as to the sports and study associations: closing time is 22:00 and not a drop of alcohol is to be consumed. The societies also need approval from their educational institution or the safety region.
The National Chamber of Societies is happy with the decision. ‘We have always said that the decisive factor should be the nature of the activity, not the nature of the association,’ says president Yorick van der Heiden. ‘It is great that we are now being given more scope for the introduction period.’
So are all sorts of activities being hurriedly planned? It’s not that dramatic, says Van der Heiden. ‘The societies have been working on adapted programmes since 1 July, in consultation with the institutions and the safety regions. So they can pick up those plans again now.’
The cabinet is expected to announce this easing of measures on Tuesday 18 August. At 19:00, Prime Minister Rutte and Public Health minister De Jonge are holding another press conference on the latest developments around the coronavirus.