• Ridge Michiels

Life continues at the university

These days, the UAntwerp campuses are almost empty. But life continues at the university. To emphasise this message, the fromyourkot.be platform is now being launched. On Wednesday 1 April, Pieter Embrechts will kick off the launch with a lunchtime living room concert at 12 pm.

Like so many other Flemish universities, the UAntwerp will only be giving online courses until the end of the academic year. This means students no longer follow courses together. But it also means that they can no longer catch up over lunch in the student restaurants, or do group work in the library, go out in the evening or attend a sports session with hundreds of other students… Coronavirus has really thrown a spanner in the works on every level.

Much more than just buildings

“A university is so much more than an amalgam of auditoriums and buildings”, says Rector Herman Van Goethem. “UAntwerp is a real network, a community. Where possible, services remain operational: the student counsellors can be reached, you can still borrow books from the libraries, the lecturers now give courses online… But in these difficult times, it is vital that we maintain this specific community feeling.”

In recent weeks, a number of initiatives were spontaneously set up. The komida student restaurants launched recipes, while the sports service organised online workout sessions. These efforts have now been given a boost, with the launch of the fromyourkot.be platform.

Everyone is here for each other

“It combines all the existing and new initiatives”, says Ann Segers, who is responsible for student communication. “We create a virtual university, where you can find more information about the activities of student clubs, can exercise, can visit the Student Information Point, can participate in a chess tournament, can find a study buddy, can learn more about the history of Antwerp through a podcast and so on. The students are helping to create the content from their kot. We are just providing them with a platform for their ideas.”

“The emphasis will be on support, but there is also plenty of margin for more light-hearted information. We will stimulate interaction as much as possible. The key message is that life continues at the university and that everyone is here to help each other. We also created this to cater to the many international students that are still in Antwerp. The university uses the online Blackboard student platform to provide detailed information about all the practical arrangements for exams and about the curriculum. Fromyourkot.be was created to promote the sense of community.”

The virtual student community will be up and running until the end of June and will regularly host unique events: a student quiz, morning gym classes, a talent show… The launch on Wednesday April 1st will be followed by a living room orchestra, conducted by Pieter Embrechts, who composed the UAntwerp song ‘U Aan het woord’. You can follow this performance, which he will be giving with a number of virtual guests and the members of his own household, live on the UAntwerp Facebook page.

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