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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard for students to stay in contact with one another and to fully feel they are part of the academic community. That is why the UvA announced the Keep in Touch campaign at the Dies Natalis in January. Every study association could apply to receive a grant for activities that would contribute to the well-being of students. Now the allocation of funds through Keep in Touch has been announced and study associations can expect the funding for their activity this month.

Keep in Touch is an initiative that aims to fight social isolation among students. At the start of the year, the study associations submitted ideas to bring students – both members and non-members – closer together.

Study associations have a connecting role

Study associations do more than provide added depth to a particular study programme. For many students, they also play a crucial role in their social life at university. A great many of these young people get to know their fellow students better through the activities organised by their study association, especially during their first year. Study associations have a connecting role – yet the coronavirus pandemic has made fulfilling that role much more challenging. For this reason, the Keep in Touch campaign is offering study associations a helping hand in doing what they are already doing – and showing so much creativity in the process – under these difficult circumstances.

From online yoga classes to a film-making weekend

Five study associations share about the activities they will be organising with help from Keep in Touch:

Elin Swaan from study association VSPA: ‘All Ears is an initiative for students, by students. All Ears will be a call line run by psychology students where all UvA students will be able to call to for a listening ear or just to have a nice chat with a fellow student.  Thanks to the help of the Keep In Touch fund, this initiative was given a chance and is currently being developed further. So keep your eyes open for All Ears!’

Jobeleen Perez of faculty association FMG: ‘On 14 April - during the UvA Health Week - the FV-FMG will organise a big online silent disco party in which all UvA students can participate. Students will be able to watch the livestream for free or they can buy a ticket which includes a party box with silent disco headphones, snacks, decorations, drinks and more. The livestream will be hosted by PALET: an established name in Amsterdam that offers the cultural sector a platform in Amsterdam nightlife and sells out venues. By giving students the opportunity to safely party at home with their flatmates, we hope to contribute positively to the mental health of our students. Without the Keep in Touch campaign, the cooperation with UvA Health week and the contribution of ASVA, we would not have been able to achieve this.’

Ada Örken from study association Cognito: ‘Yognito is a weekly online yoga class, organized by the student organization Cognito with the help of USC. We planned these classes for the month of January after hearing from our friends that they are feeling lonely, demotivated and inactive. It was a great success and we received a lot of positive feedback. When we heard about the Keep in Touch grant, we got really excited and applied immediately with the hope of continuing Yognito after January. We are very enthusiastic about the approval of the Keep In Touch grant, which enables us to continue Yognito until the end of the academic year. Now Yognito can continue to bring our community together and combat isolation while at the same time bringing some movement to our bodies, which are stiff from sitting in front of a computer the whole day.’

Jang Kapgen from study association Off-Screen: ‘With the help of Keep in Touch, we’ll be organising a Film Workshop Weekend - whenever we’re allowed to - during which we’ll give participants the chance to work on their own film project under professional supervision. We will have workshops about script writing, cinematography and post-production to teach participants the basics. However, the actual learning will be through praxis of course! Our aim is to showcase students that we can always create films, even during these hard times.’

Dawit Bakker from study association JHV Phaedrus: 'Our annual pub quiz has to be organised online this year. But how can first-year students really get to know each other online? I don't know anything about you and you don't know anything about me, so it's not easy to start a conversation. Through Keep in Touch, we will invest in ways that help break down social barriers. We will do this, for instance, by making a face book, which enables students to learn fun facts about each other and to enter into a specific conversation. That promises to be a great icebreaker during the online pub quiz!’

Want to know more about what the UvA is doing to help students' wellbeing?