With the new threat of the COVID-19 many restaurants and bars have closed leaving many people without a job. But what about the students of Maastricht who support themselves and are on a zero-hour contract? European Studies student Gabriela Štěpková is one of them and she is the first of this series of video interviews to share her story with Observant.
Štěpková talks about the struggles of not being able to work and hence not being able to pay for necessities, since students rarely have enough savings at the end of the month under normal circumstances. Let alone now.
But it's not only the financial hurdles of this situation, but also the emotional struggle of being in a country alone, with all her friends back home and having to deal with administrative things like these, with little to no help from the university or the municipality. “What happens when you live in an international community that takes little care of its people? After all, this is an international community, no?"
Observant has asked the university for a statement after the interview. They are aware of the problems students like Gabriela Štěpková are facing right now. Together with other Dutch universities they have asked the ministry to allow DUO to take a lenient approach. As soon as more information on the subject is available, the UM will share it on their website.
In addition, the University Fund Limburg is looking into setting up a crowdfunding project in order to create an emergency fund.
We spoke to Štěpková last week. Meanwhile, the National Student Union (LSVb) and labour union FNV have set up a hotline for young people whose financial situation has been negatively impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus: https://nietmijnschuld.nl/en-US/corona. Here they can find answers to questions like ‘what are my rights?’ and ‘is my employer allowed to remove me from the schedule?’.
Interview by Stella Theocharidou, editing by Sophie Pieters