| Niels ter Meer

Years of corona causes apathy in some. Coronapathy if you will. However, student columnist Niels ter Meer, while also suffering from it, still thinks this isn’t the time to forget where the brakes are.


Yesterday was March 752nd 2020. We have been living with COVID for what seems like all our lives now. Today, per the government, we finally enter the next year, with all but the last three measures lapsing. The pandemic is over, some think; while on the other hand the infection rate is through the Horst tower’s roof. So tomorrow, since we’ve grown so apathetic about COVID, it’s obviously time for a massive festival.

Before I’m accused of falling victim to fake news again, or kicking associations when they’re down, this is just an example that irks me. The festival is introduced with lines such as ‘[it] will be your opportunity to enjoy life once again to the fullest’ (I thought we were an adaptable bunch; why is that only possible now?), and — this one is the best: ‘we will celebrate that we can forget about corona with all of you.’ But, of course, don’t forget to take this (imperfect) test (or not?) for the very disease you want to forget about before entry!

But COVID isn’t gone: it’s still very much here, and it won’t be leaving. It seems like everyone and their mother has it at the moment. For me, every other week I run into someone who (or their mother) later tested positive. It still makes me anxious, even though I shouldn’t really have to anymore per the current quarantine rules. Nor does it help that I too have grown slightly apathetic, so I get to feel guilty too. With every sniffle being suspect — sneezes on TV are now jump scares for me — it’s extra annoying, especially in allergy season.

The metaphorical finish flag being waved by the government is also taken by some as the start signal to consider how hard to Control-Z ‘the hybrid option’. Its argument is based on very simple model of a student. Even if not going to campus is less effective (or lower quality) education, there still exist a myriad of good reasons, COVID related or not, why some might still choose not to. Plus, people still miss lectures, practicals, and tests through no fault of their own, so more resits might arguably be fairer. Unilaterally precluding that choice (cameras are hard, y’know?) or option for some is not something a ‘people first’ university should want to do — it should strive for more than simplistic harm-minimization.

Remember: there are still are those for whom this running-into-COVID is way more of an annoyance than it is for me. They haven’t grown apathetic — they can’t. Especially now, with these tower-high infection rates, they are extra careful; knowing they might still end up in the hospital as a consequence of someone’s oopsie, pleasure, or laziness. I know I’ve written before that it’s hard or impossible to avoid COVID long-term, but the apathetic approach society chose even I find excessive, tone deaf, and myopic (again). Insert bus-throwing metaphor here.

Coronapathy might have gotten to most of us, but COVID still grinds the gears of our society, be that through constant quarantine scares, or (the risk of) infection. This is not yet the time to stop caring. The least we can do, is respect one another’s choices, and maybe cool our heels a for bit longer. Only together we can get coronapathy under control.

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