Student union against online freshmen introduction week

Student union LSVb is very dissatisfied that most universities and colleges in the Netherlands are planning to hold their freshmen introduction weeks mostly online. According to the union, this will result in first-year students bonding with their peers and their university, putting them at risk of loneliness.

"In corona times, with a lot of online education, it is even more important that first-year students know how to navigate higher education. Doing the introduction weeks largely or only online will jeopardize the bond between these students and their college or university," LSVb chairman Lyle Muns said. A survey the union did among the 25 higher education institutions in the country showed that 15 will have their introduction weeks largely online, 7 online only, and only three largely in-person. 

Introduction weeks have an important function in student life, the union said. "First-year-students will start a new and stressful phase in their lives in September. During the introduction weeks they often get to know the friends they keep for the rest of their studies. Moreover, it is traditionally the place where student organizations can show themselves. We fear that loneliness lurks for this generation of students if no physical encounter can take place," Muns said.

The union called on higher education institutions to follow the example of Wageningen University, where introduction week will happen in-person with small groups keeping a distance of 1.5 meters apart. "Wageningen shows that an introduction week at 1.5 meters is just possible. It is therefore incomprehensible that other cities do not take up the space offered by the RIVM guidelines and thus deny students the opportunity to meet each other physically," Muns said.