At UKrant: A platform for all voices
At UKrant: A platform for all voices
Every day, the editorial staff at the UKrant wonders: What are we writing about, why are we writing about it, and how are we writing about it? A look behind the scenes.
Two weeks ago, during a meeting with our student editors – where we obeyed all the corona rules and made a note of everyone who was there, just in case – we asked them: how is everything? How are your classes? What’s happening with you and your roommates?
One of the students told a story about how she attended a large party that ended with the police showing up. She said how difficult it was for her to enjoy life right now. Her arguments were well thought out and thorough.
The conversation took place before the corona outbreaks at the student associations in Groningen. However, the cities of Rotterdam and Utrecht had recently issued warnings about young people getting infected. Here, people were complaining about students having parties in the Schildersbuurt and the Korrewegbuurt.
We were concerned. At the same time, we were wondering why these young people were so lackadaisical about following the corona rules. Higher-ups had been asking students to take responsibility, but clearly to no avail. Students also appear to be unbothered by the accusation that they’re selfish and rude. Tens of thousands of people in the Netherlands – not just students, either – are looking for ways to meet up.
We asked our student if she wanted to write her story down. To explain how she felt. She would be giving a voice to the thousands of Groningen students who do what she did but are afraid to admit it. She agreed to do so.
The article she wrote made quite a splash.
Thousands of people read and shared it. People responded to it on our website and on social media. People were angry they had to read about this in our newsletter, accused UKrant of being irresponsible, and called our student editor hedonistic and selfish. Many people felt this article should never have been written.
Nevertheless, the UKrant editors stand behind the decision to publish this article.
Does that mean we agree with everything our student editor wrote? Absolutely not. But we don’t have to. It’s our job as UKrant to report on what’s going on in the academic community in Groningen. It’s a sad world in which media only publish articles that everyone agrees with and bans anything divergent.
It’s a sad world in which media only publish articles that everyone agrees with
This week, we also published an article on what to do if you feel sick but you can’t get through to the GGD to get tested. Our advice: stay home! We also published appeals from student assessors and university president Jouke de Vries that asked students to take responsibility.
On Instagram, people commented that these actions were contradictory, but that’s not true. It’s how a medium like UKrant should operate. It allows for a critical discussion.
It should be pointed out that our student doesn’t write that she doesn’t care about the rules. She says she prefers to socialise with people she knows and stay away from strangers.
It may look like she’s the only one. People have been castigating her on the website and on social media. Please don’t forget, though, that she was brave enough to write down how she feels and to put her name on it, while thousands if not tens of thousands of other people in the city do the exact same things she does, just in secret. We are proud of her for that.
We can’t pretend this is not happening. It won’t do to ignore others’ actions while also calling all those students hedonistic, selfish, and irresponsible. Sure, we can preach at them and tell them what to do. But in return, all they do is nod like good little children and do whatever they want anyway. Just look at the continuous rise in infections.
So here’s something else we can do: we can listen to them. We can engage them in a discussion and try to find some workable solutions.
Our student editor’s contribution this week serves as the starting shot for a relevant discussion. Let’s see who’s willing to have that discussion and remain civilised, critical, and respectful.
Christien Boomsma is acting editor in chief of UKrant