It’s Monday, and not everyone is present at our morning meeting. One of our journalists is at the hospital with his partner for an operation (we learnt the next day that it went well) and another colleague is joining us via Zoom. She has a bad cold, probably caught at a faculty council meeting where everyone sat close together like in the Before Times, and coughing and sniffling people were equally welcome.
Our own COVID-19 workplace policy is slightly different and follows the UM guidelines: stay home when you are sick, even if you test negative for coronavirus. The test result is already in, our colleague tells us over Zoom. It was negative – no COVID.
After the meeting, I begin to tackle my to-do list. I send our translators the articles that need to be translated this week. I give our designer the layout of the print version of our newspaper, which will go to the printer on Wednesday. Then it’s time to do the final editing of a blog post written by former ghost student SE and one written by our junior journalist DV, schedule an interview with an HR employee about cross-border workers, reply to a bunch of emails, and check the Observant draft budget. While trying to come up with something to write about in this section, I overhear my colleague WD and my former colleague WB discuss the upcoming event with Janine Abbring, known to many as the host of the popular Dutch TV programme Zomergasten. Our interview with her (organised together with Studium Generale for Observant’s fortieth anniversary in 2019/2020) was cancelled twice due to COVID over the past eighteen months. It’s finally happening on Thursday 4 November. My colleagues will use TV fragments to ask Abbring about her interviewing style. How does she prepare for interviews? When does she know to ask follow-up questions and when does she know to stop? What questions go too far? Does she have a say about the people who are invited to be on the programme?
Two hours later and one door down from mine, our junior journalist puts his own interviewing skills to the test. He is interviewing a student from Curaçao. According to an investigation by the National Ombudsman, students from the Caribbean Netherlands encounter various problems when they come here to study – rudeness, prejudice, the language barrier – causing them to take longer to finish their degrees or even drop out altogether. We will assess the situation in Maastricht. You’ll be able to read about it soon. But first, we’re taking a week off for autumn break. After that, everyone will hopefully be healthy and refreshed and present at the Monday morning meeting, with the window open.