Persona non grata at the UG?

The Joost Herman case

Op-ed: Persona non grata at the UG?

Professor Jacques Zeelen is shocked by the way the UG is treating Joost Herman after his dismissal, he writes in an open letter. ‘Only the university community can stop this heartless legal attack.’
By Jacques Zeelen
29 October om 15:20 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 29 October 2020
om 15:20 uur.
October 29 at 15:20 PM.
Last modified on October 29, 2020
at 15:20 PM.

Last week, I travelled to the court in Leeuwarden to attend UG arts professor Joost Herman’s appeal against his dismissal.

After a long session which clearly exhausted Joost Herman, the court’s chair, speculating on the appeal’s outcome, asked him whether he sees himself having a future at the UG.

Herman answered: ‘I worked with amazing colleagues for twenty-five years and I loved my work. My conflict is with a few directors. I would like to return to work.’

The chair then turned to the UG representatives to ask if the university felt it could continue to work with Joost Herman if the verdict was in his favour. After a quick consultation with the UG representative through the corona-proof plexiglass, the UG lawyer answered, without any visible attempt at hiding a nasty sense of triumph: ‘The university considers mister Herman persona non grata.’

As someone who works at the UG, I couldn’t believe my ears. I’ve been around the university for a while, and just like Joost Herman, I’ve loved my job. After twenty-five years of dedicated service and so much great local, national, and international work, how could they treat an employee like this and not feel a sense of shame?

What is going on? Why are they treating him so harshly and aggressively? Why do they feel the need to belittle and humiliate ‘Joost H.’? In that courtroom last week, I wanted to get up and shout that these men weren’t allowed to treat my colleague this way in the name of the university. I wanted to say that enough was enough. But I knew the rules and kept my mouth shut.

These men aren’t allowed to treat my colleague this way in the name of the university. Enough is enough

Perhaps I should have mentally prepared myself more. After all, this wasn’t the first time Herman had been treated this way.

There’s a long list of previous incidents: they never gave Joost Herman the opportunity to tell his side of the story; they didn’t take his burnout into account, or the fact that he was getting psychiatric treatment; they publicly accused him without any proof; they started damages proceedings for 1.2 million euros far back as April of 2019 without basis; they blocked his bank accounts; they seized his house; they cancelled his UG computer accounts; they blocked access to his office; they withheld documents Herman wanted to use to aid in his defence; they tarnished his name during meetings in Groningen, The Hague, and Brussels; and they tried to stop him from getting any sickness benefits.

So what is going on? Why couldn’t they have changed gears halfway through and decide on a more respectful approach? They’ve had plenty of opportunity. But so far, the UG directors ignored all the chances they had to be a little more humane in this case.

For example, the board of directors completely ignored a letter sent to them by Herman’s fellow professors and lecturers asking them to dial it back. After listing an overview of all the impressive things Herman had done for the UG, the letter read: ‘Yes, mistakes were made, and he admits that he made them, but surely you could sit down together and find a solution that everyone is happy with?’

But the board gave no response, not even to acknowledge the letter had been received. So much for administrative manners at the UG.

I knew all this had happened, of course, but the announcement that the UG considered Herman persona non grata still came as an unpleasant surprise.

It’s likely that his dismissal, which had already been ratified by the Groningen courts, will be confirmed once again. Mistakes have indeed been made, and it apparently doesn’t take much to fire someone, even if Joost Herman didn’t pocket a single euro and all the money was spent on the NOHA programmes.

But as I said: enough is enough. Only the university community can stop this heartless legal attack and put an end to the way professor Joost Herman and his family are being ruined.

Jacques Zeelen is a professor of lifelong learning and social intervention at Globalisation Studies Groningen

Video: Wear a face mask everywhere, all the time

Video: Wear a face mask everywhere, all the time

In an effort to combat the coronavirus, the UG has made face masks mandatory in all university buildings. Everyone – both students and staff – has to wear one.
Video by Lidian Boelens
28 October om 11:20 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 28 October 2020
om 11:20 uur.
October 28 at 11:20 AM.
Last modified on October 28, 2020
at 11:20 AM.

The mask mandate applies to all university buildings. People have to wear masks while waiting line in front of the UB and Aletta Jacobs hall, at PhD ceremonies, and in the hallways on their way to get a cup of coffee. This is what that looks like.

Why are innocent students punished for cheating they didn’t do?

The exam mess

Op-ed: Why are innocent students punished for cheating they didn’t do?

Why are all students forced to retake an exam when only a small number of them cheated? If you can’t prove that someone cheated, you’re not allowed to punish them, argues Groninger Studentenbond (GSb) chair Marinus Jongman.
By Marinus Jongman
27 October om 16:33 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 October 2020
om 16:37 uur.
October 27 at 16:33 PM.
Last modified on October 27, 2020
at 16:37 PM.

Last week, it was announced that students allegedly cheating during several exams at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB). UKrant wrote about this on Monday. Apparently, the answer for this ‘widespread’ cheating is to cancel all exams and move them to a random week in the next block.

As far as the GSb is concerned FEB is entirely wrong to do this. As a student who’s having trouble adjusting to education now being online, I’ll explain why.

First of all, the concept of punishing the many for the mistakes of the few is completely outdated. Good students who have been working hard since the start of the year are being punished because a few others allegedly cheated. If you can’t prove that someone cheated, you shouldn’t be allowed to punish them. In any other legal system, the rule is ‘innocent until proven guilty’, but here it’s simply been decided that everyone is culpable.

This would have been excessive under normal circumstances, but now it’s even worse. Many students struggle now that everything is online; never before have there been so many complaints of trouble focusing and a lack of motivation.

In any other legal system the rule is ‘innocent until proven guilty’, but here it’s simply been decided that everyone is culpable

Ask any study adviser: Studying right now is particularly difficult. First-years are having a particularly hard time, as they have nothing to compare it to. Not only did the pandemic have quite an impact on the last few months of their high school careers, but their introduction week and now their exams have also been disrupted. But the first one hundred days are really important for first-year students, as it helps them adjust to their new life.

Now, innocent and hard-working students are being punished for things they didn’t do. Faculties have had six months to figure out how to administer exams, and still everything is going awry.

Last Monday, a FEB exam was cancelled when several students had almost finished it, simply because a few others were denied entrance into the digital exam room because the maximum number of participants had been reached. The law faculty has also reported issues with the digital exam environment. Last week, they threatened to cancel all online exams after a few reports of cheating.

Students are also complaining about having to sit too many exams in a day. FEB minor students had to take three exams in a single day. Surely that’s unhealthy?

To be sure, these two faculties aren’t the only ones that are facing issues. There’s a bigger issue at play here. There is a distinct lack of leadership at the university, and this has become even more obvious during the corona crisis.

Every student, lecturer, faculty manager and programme coordinator is at their wits’ end. They just don’t know how to make everything work. Unfortunately, the students end up being the victims over and over again. The board of directors should have risen to the occasion and dealt with the situation.

Streamer: There is a distinct lack of leadership at the university, and this has become even more obvious during the corona crisis

So far, they haven’t. The face mask mandate wasn’t put in place until a week after the press conference about the new measures. Why? Because the board was taking a fall break. While other universities announced on Thursday, October 15 that face masks were mandatory, our board members didn’t make the announcement until five days later, after their break.

They currently find themselves leading a university where its first-year students no longer feel like they’re starting the best time of their lives. Rather, they can’t decide whether they simply dislike their programme or if it’s because of online education.

This crisis has shown that the university is losing its connections to its students. We’re getting all tangled up in rules and bureaucracy, bogged down in exam regulation subheadings. We’re constantly pointing fingers at each other to ward off being blamed and bond over our sense of desperation.

The university is a mess, students are on the verge of a breakdown, and all sense of vision is lost. I would like to appeal to the board of directors. Please, be the leaders you’re supposed to be. Take responsibility. Do something. It’s been seven months since the university closed down and it’s time to rise to the occasion. It’s now or never.

Marinus Jongman is chair of the Groninger Studentenbond (GSb)

FEB cracks down on exam fraud

First-year students are off to a rocky start

FEB cracks down on exam fraud

The first-year students of the Economics and Business Economics Bachelors are off to a rocky start, having to re-take three mid-term exams in the upcoming weeks due to fraud.
By Şilan Çelebi
26 October om 12:36 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 26 October 2020
om 16:37 uur.
October 26 at 12:36 PM.
Last modified on October 26, 2020
at 16:37 PM.

Throughout the past week, the Board of Examiners of the Faculty of Economics and Business have officially declared the mid-terms for international business, mathematics and micro-economics invalid due to widespread communication amongst the students about the content of the exams, during the exams.

Students have been sent an email in which the board explains how due to this exam-fraud (‘Frequent WhatsApp contacts during the exam’, the Board explains) it can no longer perform a correct assessment of any of the students’ knowledge, understanding and skills on the subject matter.

Citing article 9.16 of the exam regulations, the board explains that the wide-spread fraud means it has to invalidate the three mid-terms for everyone. Accordingly, the grades that the students have received will no longer be valid and all students will have to retake the exams in the upcoming weeks.

On top of the first-year students, the micro-economics exam was also taken by international business students. They too will have to retake their mid-terms. The exam has been rescheduled for the second week of November, thus extending their current exam period by two weeks. This means they’ll have to take the exam while already in their second block classes.

Trick or treat

Photo Reyer Boxem

Trick or treat

By Niall Torris
20 October om 11:23 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 20 October 2020
om 11:47 uur.
October 20 at 11:23 AM.
Last modified on October 20, 2020
at 11:47 AM.

Coronavirus is resurging just in time to treat us to a Halloween nightmare. As if exams weren’t already stalking up behind us like a masked killer. Just like in a horror movie, things are starting to disappear without explanation. I haven’t seen a classmate in weeks, and is it just me, or are an awful lot of businesses closed now too?

Just as I felt like I was starting to settle into a life with a lot less to do, I’ve found myself seeing the things I enjoy disappearing again. I always enjoy a trip to a bar to meet a few friends and, even if they close at 10 p.m. and there could only be four of us, it was nice to see everyone. The best horrors give you a little bit of hope somewhere in the middle.

I was even starting to think I might manage to escape a little bit, maybe even get a little in-person lecture. What a fool I was. That’s a good lesson that can be picked up in any horror film: don’t get your hopes up, it could be fatal.

The ones who survive in horror films are the ones who accept their new reality and adapt

The ones who survive in these films, at least the ones who do so most regularly, are the ones who accept their new reality and adapt. So, like so many characters I’ve watched on TV, I’m hoping I wake up from this nightmare while I realise it’s reality. I’m just at the part where I’m hiding inside wondering what to do next; but I have a laptop and a dissertation to write.

Now, maybe I’m wrong here and things will calm down this week and measures can relax. But I can’t remember a time the killer decided to just go home and leave everyone alone. So, in all likelihood, Covid-19 is going to be around for a while longer and the restrictions will creep up along with it.

So what can I do? Well, cycling is good cardio and the library is still open. Staying ahead of your colleagues is just as essential in university as it is in a horror flick, so both of those should help with that. Apparently, when you’re frightened, your pupils dilate, allowing you to take in more information, which might come in handy for studying.

I’m just hoping I don’t get a scare at exams.

Internationals call out UG and municipality over corona video

‘Wording suggests we don’t adhere to the rules’

Internationals call out UG and municipality over corona video

A poorly worded start to an Instagram video by the municipality of Groningen and the UG has angered international students.
By Sara Rommes
8 October om 17:46 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 13 October 2020
om 13:56 uur.
October 8 at 17:46 PM.
Last modified on October 13, 2020
at 13:56 PM.

The video is part of an online collaborative campaign between students, the university, the municipality, and the Safety Region in which they call on students to obey the corona rules.

The video, which has been published on both the UG and the municipality Groningen Instagram pages, shows an international student. He starts the video by saying: ‘I am an international student, as many of you are. But this is not a reason to not follow the rules.’

Outraged

The post, which went up on Tuesday, has been responded to by dozens of outraged international students. They feel the wording suggests that particularly international students don’t adhere to the corona rules, and they don’t like it.

‘This is a colossally clumsy and condescending message to international students. It is insulting to the many of us that have gone above and beyond the pitiful responses made by the Dutch authorities’, one person writes, adding: ‘Delete this video and apologize to the students that had to deliver such an embarrassing message on your behalf.’

Indifferent

Two weeks ago, UKrant reported that international students are concerned about how indifferent Dutch people are to the corona policies. They often travelled here from countries where the rules are much stricter, and they feel the Netherlands’ rules are lax.

The municipality of Groningen says the campaign isn’t aimed specifically at international students. This video was the first one to be posted on Tuesday, but the city will be posting other videos addressing students.

The idea for the campaign originated with the students themselves, emphasises spokesperson Natasja van ‘t Hooft. One of the partners closely involved in the production is medical study association Panacea.

Best of intentions

The university said it still supports the campaign. ‘The student spoke from the heart; the video wasn’t scripted’, says spokesperson Jorien Bakker. ‘We wanted to let the students speak for themselves.’

According to Van ‘t Hooft, everyone who participated in the campaign only had the best of intentions. ‘It’s unfortunate that some people were offended by it, but we genuinely didn’t mean it to be offensive.’

Need to stay motivated at work? Reward yourself

Need to stay motivated at work? Reward yourself

People are always looking for a way to reward themselves. ‘Once I finish this, I can get a coffee.’ The corona crisis has robbed us of these little rewards moments. But Geraldina Gaastra says they’re very important.
By Juultje Eenink
31 August om 10:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 31 August 2020
om 16:15 uur.
August 31 at 10:00 AM.
Last modified on August 31, 2020
at 16:15 PM.

You’ve spent three hours in the library and you’ve finally read through a chapter of the book you’re reading. You nudge your study buddy to proudly tell them you’re finished. ‘Well done!’ they say. You’ve got another couple of chapters to go, but first, it’s time for a cup of coffee. You can stretch your legs and check your phone at the same time.

Reward moments. The situation described above is full of them, but now that the corona crisis has us working at home, they are suddenly few and far between. That’s a bad thing, says assistant professor of clinical neuropsychology Geraldina Gaastra. Getting a cup of coffee, having a talk with a colleague or fellow student, and the appreciation these people show for the work you just did are all little rewards, she says, that come with a normal workday.

‘I can imagine that people aren’t getting these little rewards as much right now. Especially if you have a family; you make that switch from one environment to the other in an instant, which means you miss out on rewards.’ Those little rewards are very important, says Gaastra. You should make sure to reward yourself during the day. It’s easy: ‘All you have to is tell yourself that once you’ve finished a task, you get a reward.’

Improve behaviour

Gaastra recently finished her PhD research into reward sensitivity in children with ADHD The average person is already sensitive to rewards, but in people with ADHD, rewards appear to been even more effective.

‘My research showed that using rewards is an effective strategy to use in the classroom if you want to improve the behaviour of ADHD children’, Gaastra says. ‘You can use a points system, for example, where children can exchange their points for stickers at the end of the day. Or you can have children help teachers clean the blackboard at the end of the day. That was always a privilege when I was a kid.’

Social rewards, like compliments, are also effective. ‘Telling someone they did a good job is a very simple way of rewarding them, but it’s been proven to work.’ By rewarding desired behaviour, you can stimulate it, Gaastra explains.

Conscious rewards

People with ADHD tend to experience a lower degree of motivation than other people. That’s why that extra push works so well for them. But you can apply the principle even if you don’t have ADHD. ‘I even think we do it without realising it’, says Gaastra. ‘Promising yourself you’re allowed to do something fun or relaxing once you’ve done two hours of work could be considered a reward.’

She even uses the technique on herself. But, she says, it’s important to consciously include those rewards in your day. ‘If you just wing it, it’s much easier to decide to relax when you’re still in the middle of a task. To quit when you’re sick of doing it rather than when you’ve finished it. But then you divorce it from your behaviour or the goal you had in mind.’

The link between your work and the reward is the most important part; you have to really experience the relationship between the two. That also means you can’t postpone your reward for too long. ‘That’s why grades don’t really work as a reward system. It takes too long before you get that feedback.’

‘Employees work 10,000 hours of unpaid overtime a day’

Student party DAG calculates:

‘Employees work 10,000 hours of unpaid overtime a day’

UG employees work a total of more than 10,000 hours of unpaid overtime a day, student party DAG has calculated.
27 August om 13:30 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 August 2020
om 13:31 uur.
August 27 at 13:30 PM.
Last modified on August 27, 2020
at 13:31 PM.


Rob Siebelink

Door Rob Siebelink

27 August om 13:30 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 August 2020
om 13:31 uur.
Rob Siebelink

By Rob Siebelink

August 27 at 13:30 PM.
Last modified on August 27, 2020
at 13:31 PM.
Rob Siebelink

Rob Siebelink

Hoofdredacteur
Volledig bio
Editor-in-chief
Full bio

According to DAG’s calculations, support and managerial staff as well as administrative employees work almost two thousand hours of overtime a day, while academic and teaching staff works 8,657 hours of overtime. ‘That’s a total of 10,577 unpaid overtime a day at the University of Groningen’, says DAG.

The numbers are a result of WOin Actie’s recent investigation into the number of unpaid work hours for each staff category. DAG has adjusted the numbers to apply to the situation in Groningen. 

According to DAG, the numbers are disappointing, but not surprising. In reality, the party says, the number of hours of unpaid overtime RUG staff works is much higher. The calculation was based on numbers from before the start of the corona crisis. ‘They’re much worse in the current situation.’

Red squares

DAG made the calculation after students at the University of Utrecht did the same. These students also came up with a result of approximately 10,000 hours a day. On Monday, August 31, they want to spray paint 10,000 red squared along a route from the Dom Church to Utrecht Science park.

They’re motivated by a Volkskrant interview with Leiden professor Remco Breuker, an active member of WOinActie. He expressed his disappointment at the lack of support and involvement of students when it came to protesting the works stress teachers deal with.

How do I prepare a nice (and cheap) meal?

How to survive in Groningen

How do I prepare a nice (and cheap) meal?

You’re living on your own for the first time and there’s no one to prepare your meals for you anymore. Food needs to be nourishing, not too expensive, healthy and above all it needs to taste good. UKrant shows you how to whip up a nice pasta that’ll impress your new flat mates.
Video by Rianne Aalbers
25 August om 10:51 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 25 August 2020
om 13:03 uur.
August 25 at 10:51 AM.
Last modified on August 25, 2020
at 13:03 PM.

Corona crisis has made students and staff gloomy

Studying at home sucks, working from home is fine

Corona crisis has made students and staff gloomy

UG staff and students have been feeling the effects of the corona crisis, both mentally and physically. Many of them are feeling gloomier than they used to and they’re worried about their health and the economy.
7 July om 16:42 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 25 August 2020
om 10:53 uur.
July 7 at 16:42 PM.
Last modified on August 25, 2020
at 10:53 AM.


Rob Siebelink

Door Rob Siebelink

7 July om 16:42 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 25 August 2020
om 10:53 uur.
Rob Siebelink

By Rob Siebelink

July 7 at 16:42 PM.
Last modified on August 25, 2020
at 10:53 AM.
Rob Siebelink

Rob Siebelink

Hoofdredacteur
Volledig bio
Editor-in-chief
Full bio

This is among the results of a survey done by research agency Newcom for UKrant and eight other research university and university of applied sciences magazines in Enschede, Delft, Eindhoven, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Breda, Den Bosch, and Tilburg.

The survey paints a picture of staff and students’ experience of the last few months of lockdown during the corona crisis, in both Groningen and the rest of the Netherlands.

Less energy

Almost four out of ten UG students who filled out the survey say the corona crisis has caused a lot of nuisance (nationally, this is at 48 percent) and that it’s led to physical and psychological issues.

They’re feeling gloomier (64 percent), have less energy (56 percent), and are lonelier (60 percent). More than half the students say they’re more nervous and anxious. 

The numbers among UG staff are a little lower. A quarter of people who filled out the survey say the survey has caused a lot of nuisance. More than four out of ten employees (42 percent) are gloomier and more listless and one in three say they’re more nervous and anxious. The national numbers are pretty much the same.

Moreover, staff and students are mainly worried about the pandemic and the lockdown’s impact on the economy (44 and 41 percent), and they’re worried about the health of the elderly and vulnerable (36 and 31 percent, respectively).

Focus

The biggest sore point for UG students was their lack of focus. Three quarters of students say they find it hard to concentrate on studying now that they have to do it all from home. Half of them spend less time studying, and one in five even spends ‘much less’ time with their nose in their books. When asked to judge studying from home, students gave it a failing grade of 4.8 (the national grade was 4.7).

People do appreciate the way the UG had adapted to the situation. More than 60 percent of students rate the UG’s actions as good to very good, while a minority (11 percent) is very unhappy. Elsewhere in the country, students appreciate their research universities and universities of applied sciences similarly.

For UG employees, work stress and work-life balance were still difficult during the corona crisis. These issues were rated at a 5.7 and 6.1, respectively. 

From home

Nine out of ten UG employees only work from home. While a quarter of them didn’t like forced working from home at all, half of them would like to continue working from home for one or two days a week after the crisis (one in five indicated they’d like to work from home as much as possible). 

Working from home was rated at a 7.1, with working at work getting a 7.4.  Employees also think it’s a good thing they’ve been able to spend more time with their families (26 percent) and that they ended up exercising more (20 percent).

Positives for students are that they’ve started to appreciate family and friends more (22 percent), discovered new hobbies (21 percent), and started exercising more.

Sources

The following research university and university of applied sciences magazine participated in this survey: U-Today (University of Twente), Delta (TU Delft), Cursor (TU Eindhoven), DUB (University of Utrecht), Ad Valvas (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Punt. (Avans University of Applied Sciences Brabant), HanzeMag (Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen) en Trajectum (Utrecht University of Applied Sciences).

Four hundred staff members and students at the UG filled out the survey. The results from the various institutes were pooled, creating a national benchmark consisting of 1,202 students and 871 staff members.

This is a survey/indication, not a representative sample. 

Participation was sidelined when crisis started

Who or what is the crisis team?

Participation was sidelined when crisis started

Participation at the UG was sidelined the first few weeks of the corona crisis. There was no way around it, said university president Jouke de Vries during the university council meeting last Thursday. ‘We had to act fast.’
6 July om 14:31 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 7 July 2020
om 9:40 uur.
July 6 at 14:31 PM.
Last modified on July 7, 2020
at 9:40 AM.


Rob Siebelink

Door Rob Siebelink

6 July om 14:31 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 7 July 2020
om 9:40 uur.
Rob Siebelink

By Rob Siebelink

July 6 at 14:31 PM.
Last modified on July 7, 2020
at 9:40 AM.
Rob Siebelink

Rob Siebelink

Hoofdredacteur
Volledig bio
Editor-in-chief
Full bio

Once the coronavirus reached the Netherlands, the board of directors had to implement measures in order to ‘continue teaching in a responsible manner’, the UG board said.

This led to the cancellation of on-site education mid-March, research being postponed, and the UG going into lockdown. All of this happened without consultation of the university council or any other kind of participation, the university council said, criticising the process.

De Vries explained that the UG had no choice. The university had to act fast because of the actions from the government and the Groningen Safety Region.

Enormous task

The university was facing the enormous task of having to guarantee education and safety, said De Vries. ‘We had to act fast or we’d be facing a slew of different problems. To address the claim that participation was sidelined during this process… It’s possible this happened the first few weeks.’

Earlier, the university council had criticised what it felt was a not very democratic or transparent process. ‘Who decides what happens to us?’ asked Antoon de Baets with the personnel faction.

They were surprised by the sudden presence of the UG Central Crisis Team (CCT), which no one knew existed, De Baets said. They also didn’t know who was on the CCT. Nevertheless, this team was suddenly making decisions on a myriad of crucial issues while participation was pushed to the side.

9/11

However, De Vries said the CCT isn’t a new team. It was created after the terrorist attacks in the US in September 2001, on the insistence of the ministry of Education. The sleeper team is activated whenever needed.

‘You need something when you have to respond quickly to a crisis’, said De Vries. He said the corona outbreak in the Netherlands met these criteria. On top of that, the UG had only limited leeway, since its actions were partly determined by the Safety Region and Groningen mayor Koen Schuiling. He emphasised the situation was normalised as much as possible afterwards. 

Chinese ambassador

The board presented a thirty-page report to the council detailing the operation of the CCT and the board over the past few months of the corona crisis.

One interesting detail is a mention of a visit to the UG by the Chinese ambassador in the Netherlands, Xu Hong. The ambassador, who is originally from the city of Wuhan where the virus first broke out, offered to exchange information about the virus and its spread with the UMCG.

The CCT then liaised between the hospital’s infectious disease department, microbiologist Alex Friedrich, and hospitals in Wuhan. 

Summer break

Summer break

By Niall Torris
30 June om 13:52 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 30 June 2020
om 20:16 uur.
June 30 at 13:52 PM.
Last modified on June 30, 2020
at 20:16 PM.

Another college year is over and I’m once again staring down the barrel of the summer break. Except this time, it looks very different.

This side of a vaccine for Covid-19, everything I enjoy doing is off the menu. Festivals, nights out, a trip away and a summer job to keep it all ticking over have all been cancelled. Even where these things can still go ahead, social distancing means we all have to stay far apart and in our seats. So for now, I’m mostly staying at home with a book or anything else I can find on-screen to keep busy.

At first Zoom calls and quizzes online offered a stand-in for these social interactions. We’d all sit in front of our screens, can in hand, to take a quiz or just chat away about whatever developments were happening in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with social interaction through a screen, but after a while it all just stopped. Honestly, I can’t say I really miss it all that much either.

But it’s not all bad. Groningen is a home to me, but my family home in Ireland is fantastic, too. Myself and my father sat at the kitchen table recently listening to music, drinking, and sharing a laugh. We didn’t feel great that Sunday morning after the bottle of rum, and my mother and younger brother didn’t appreciate us keeping them awake either… but it was fine, we all get along.

Groningen is a home to me, but my family home in Ireland is fantastic, too

But for some students, their home is not necessarily a sanctuary, and many students will feel alienated and exiled at home and away from their lives in Groningen. For these people, the prospect of a long stay in their hometowns with little opportunity to find outlets to allow them to be themselves is an intimidating prospect.

The security and freedoms that attachment to the University of Groningen brings to so many of us cannot be easily sent down a screen. Most of us are understandably wary of the notion that technology can offer a real solution to the new pressures and anxieties that taking a course in the middle of a pandemic are causing. But we don’t really have an option until the pandemic clears.

Thankfully, while we will surely still be unavoidably limited after summer, the university has promised hybrid learning that will see many of us back on campus next year.

It can’t come quick enough.

This is what the UG looks like after the corona crisis

Video: Arrows, tape, and signs

This is what the UG looks like after the corona crisis

There is hand sanitiser everywhere, arrows on the floors and doors, stickers saying how many people are allowed in a room, traffic signs signalling the right of way, red-and-white tape, and chains. This is what the UG will look like once the uni opens its doors again.
Video by Lidian Boelens
25 June om 12:26 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 29 June 2020
om 14:57 uur.
June 25 at 12:26 PM.
Last modified on June 29, 2020
at 14:57 PM.

Survey: How are you affected by the corona crisis?

Survey: How are you affected by the corona crisis?

Working from home and online education have become the new normal since the start of the pandemic. UKrant and other university papers are collaborating on a national survey that asks: How are you dealing with the crisis?
24 June om 11:17 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 June 2020
om 11:18 uur.
June 24 at 11:17 AM.
Last modified on June 24, 2020
at 11:18 AM.

It’s been three months since the start of the lockdown, and the rules are slowly being relaxed. Nevertheless, we’re still not all allowed inside the university, online education has become the norm, and various events (the KEI week, the opening of the academic year, the Welcoming Ceremony) have been cancelled. UKrant wants to know how this has made students and staff feel. 

In collaboration with research agency Newcom Research & Consultancy, UKrant has created a survey. This survey will not just be shared with UG students and staff, but with those of other research universities and universities of applied sciences as well (including Delft, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Twente, and Tilburg). 

We’ll be asking you questions about your mental well-being, as well as how you feel about working and studying from home. What’s working for you, and what issues are you having? How is the communication with your manager or lecturer going? But also: what do you miss most about on-site education?

We’ll be publishing the results in early July.

If you’d like to participate, please click here.

Corona speeds up Zernike renovations

Work to be largely finished by end of 2020

Corona speeds up Zernike renovations

The Zernikelaan upgrade is going much faster because of the corona crisis. Since Campus Zernike is basically deserted, construction that was planned for next year was moved up.
22 June om 16:01 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 23 June 2020
om 15:35 uur.
June 22 at 16:01 PM.
Last modified on June 23, 2020
at 15:35 PM.


Rob Siebelink

Door Rob Siebelink

22 June om 16:01 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 23 June 2020
om 15:35 uur.
Rob Siebelink

By Rob Siebelink

June 22 at 16:01 PM.
Last modified on June 23, 2020
at 15:35 PM.
Rob Siebelink

Rob Siebelink

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This means the biggest part of the renovations will be done by the end of this year, rather than somewhere in 2021, the city of Groningen reports.

The extensive upgrade is aimed at making the campus nicer and more attractive.  The bus lane, the bicycle paths, the sidewalks, and the Zernike square will all be updated, the Duisenberg pond is undergoing a metamorphosis, and the Zernikelaan itself will look like a park in places.

Path and trees

On the north side of the campus, crew have dug out ponds and created a walking path. They’ll plant trees in the autumn and plant greenery all along the Zernikelaan.

The changes to the Duisenberg pond are also taking shape. The quays will be outfitted with a steel construction. After the construction holidays, they’ll be covered with a wooden plank bridge. Construction will create a park next to the Duisenberg pond.

Safety

The bus lane has been partially renovated and on the north side of the campus, near EnTranCe, the road has been widened. A new cycling path and sidewalk have also been created. In 2019, the entrance to the campus got an extra lane and new cycling paths and sidewalks.

De route to the Crematoriumlaan has been changed and the exits from the ring road were widened to improve the flow of traffic. The city installed traffic lights to make the situation safer.

In the summer of 2021, the final part of the bus lane renovations, the bus junction, will be completed. The city will also build stands for the Willem-Alexander Sports Centre. This will mark the end of the Zernikelaan upgrade.

Longer sentence in infamous UG fraud case

Hans G. sentenced to 32 months in jail

Longer sentence in infamous UG fraud case

Hans G., the former manager of the UG’s technical department, has received a longer sentence on appeal. The court in Zwolle sentenced him to 32 months in jail. He will also have to pay damages of more than a million euros.
22 June om 15:39 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 June 2020
om 15:39 uur.
June 22 at 15:39 PM.
Last modified on June 22, 2020
at 15:39 PM.


Rob Siebelink

Door Rob Siebelink

22 June om 15:39 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 June 2020
om 15:39 uur.
Rob Siebelink

By Rob Siebelink

June 22 at 15:39 PM.
Last modified on June 22, 2020
at 15:39 PM.
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Rob Siebelink

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In May 2017, G., who is now 68 years old, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years in jail, six months of which were probational, and damages in the amount of 450,000 euros. He appealed this decision.

But this court’s sentence is more severe than the previous one. The court says that Hans G. ‘was the key figure in this case of professional corruption’ at the university and that he took other people down with him, including his wife, his son Michael, and Michael’s girlfriend. The court said G.’s ‘impertinence [was] shocking’.

Cars and money

G. was responsible for the maintenance of dozens of UG properties in Groningen. For years, he took money from friendly construction companies in exchange for lucrative jobs at the university. He was also ‘paid’ in luxury items such as cars.

He created fake invoices to make the UG pay the bills, costing the university a little over a million euros.

Earlier, the directors of two of the construction companies were convicted, as well as G.’s son and his girlfriend. G.’s wife was acquitted by the court in Almelo three years ago.

DNA partially determines how sick corona makes you

DNA partially determines how sick corona makes you

A large international collaborative study that includes the UG, the UMCG, and bio-bank Lifelines, has found out that your DNA determines whether you get really sick from the coronavirus or whether you barely notice anything.
22 June om 14:05 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 June 2020
om 14:05 uur.
June 22 at 14:05 PM.
Last modified on June 22, 2020
at 14:05 PM.


Rob Siebelink

Door Rob Siebelink

22 June om 14:05 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 June 2020
om 14:05 uur.
Rob Siebelink

By Rob Siebelink

June 22 at 14:05 PM.
Last modified on June 22, 2020
at 14:05 PM.
Rob Siebelink

Rob Siebelink

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The study’s results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. ‘These findings can contribute to the development of a drug for Covid-19’, says Lude Franke, genetics professor at the UMCG.

The study shows that genetic factors partially determine how sick someone gets. ‘We’ve found the first DNA locations, which means we can start to figure out how those locations influence the disease and which biological processes are disrupted.’

This knowledge can contribute to the development of antiviral drugs or to finding existing medication that are known to impact those same DNA locations, says Franke.

Lifelines

Lude Franke is one of the initiators of the large-scale Lifelines corona study which aims to identify genetic and environmental factors that lead to corona infections. Tens of thousands of residents of the northern provinces are participating in the study through Lifelines.

They’ve filled out a questionnaire about their health every two weeks since the start of the corona crisis. By combining all this data, the researchers are able to notice differences in DNA.

Connection

An international research group has studied the DNA and the course of the disease in large numbers of Italian and Spanish Covid-19 patients. Franke: ‘We helped out by replicating the results, and we, too, found a connection between the progress of Covid-19 and certain DNA locations.’

In order to learn more about the coronavirus, genetic scientists from all over the world are working together through the Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative. Findings from the continuing Lifeline corona study have been shared with this consortium and used for the international article.