Stills from the tv programme
Rector Rianne Letschert during a television debate
THE NETHERLANDS/ MAASTRICHT. “We must be able to take a blow, which also applies to this generation of students. If their first reaction to the corona crisis is ‘How will I be compensated?’, then I think that is very sad. ” That is what rector Rianne Letschert said last Sunday evening during a television debate with experts about life after the corona crisis.
Many sectors in society were discussed: education (Letschert), economy (Rabobank director Barbara Baarsma), mental healthcare (psychiatrist Damiaan Denys), the legal system (High Council member Ybo Buruma), science (professor Louise Fresco), and culture (actor Gijs Scholten van Aschat). Baarsma, on the other hand, understands the students. This crisis, after all, will result in high economic and social costs. Denys drew attention to another aspect. The world is much less makeable than we think. “Accept that things don’t always work the way we want, that we are not always in control. Accept that we are mortal.”
Journalist Coen Verbraak asked the questions from the stage in an otherwise empty Stopera in Amsterdam. “What would you do if a sixty-year-old became unwell and collapsed? Would you give him a heart massage now with corona?” Letschert didn’t need to think long about it: “If I could, yes.” Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation too, if necessary? “Intuitively, I say yes.” After which the discussion switched to the cultural sector, which is having an especially hard time. Scholten van Aschat: “I have a permanent job; I am one of the forty actors. The rest is now without income, just like the people from lighting, catering and wardrobe.”
“Would you give the money meant for KLM to culture,” psychiatrist Denys then asked economist and Rabobank director Baarsma. After all, those tourists come to the Netherlands to enjoy the cities, the culture and the landscape. Baarsma didn’t allow herself to be drawn out and argued that it should be about both. “Both are important.”
Letschert pointed out that the crisis is only seven weeks old, and that it is logical that all attention went to healthcare in the first few weeks. Now it is time to look further. What if the universities cannot open in September, she wondered? “Then a number of them might collapse.”
Watch the programme here (in Dutch)