About 400 people gathered today on the Solbosch campus of the University of Brussels (VUB/ULB) in a demonstration to denounce the psychological distress students are facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The event opened with a speech and a call for students to share their experiences, or read the anonymous testimonies of students who were too embarrassed about their financial situations and the resulting impact to testify themselves.
“The idea was that everyone could testify about their situation… So that the students realize that they are not alone in this, and so that the authorities can react,” explained the student union (USE).
Students expressed demands, addressed to the university rector and the Minister of French-speaking higher education, including the gradual reopening of universities and colleges and the resumption of cultural and sporting activities to help students break out of their prolonged isolation.
They also called for a lightened workload and a week of vacation to allow students experiencing psychological distress time to breathe, as well as free psychological support, citing an increase in the rate of depression among students.
There was also a call for special Covid-19 scholarships and the extension of temporary unemployment benefits to students who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
“All these measures will only be possible through refinancing of the higher education sector,” said the union, which also called on authorities to consult students when making decisions in the context of crisis management.
Police were unable to confirm the exact number of participants at the demonstration.
The Brussels Times