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Students against Corona: A Think Tank Helping Organisations Find Answers to Corona Questions

Many students are looking to contribute during this crisis but are not sure how and where to turn. A group of students from Leiden University and the TU Delft have developed a platform to facilitate this: www.studententegencorona.nl. The platform was created to link organisations trying to find answers to certain problems to various student work groups.

Security Studies students Kevin Hofman and Samuel Hartman came up with the idea for the 'Students against Corona' platform. We spoke to them about setting up the platform and their experiences so far.  

Kevin tells us that during the first evening of the lockdown, Samuel got in touch with him and they both felt this strong urge to do something useful. Together they came up with the idea of creating a platform to offer students a chance to contribute and support organisations during this crisis. They gathered a team of students with various backgrounds to help them and that was the beginning of 'Students against Corona'. 

Workgroups

Students can register to help support organisations with their expertise and knowledge. Over 200 students have registered so far.  The assignments are carried out by work groups of five students. They are linked to a relevant problem that has been contributed by an organisation. 'A good example is the collaboration with the 'Landelijk Operationeel Team Coronabestrijding', the Dutch national Corona Prevention Team. One of the assignments we carried out for them was to find ways to utilise the resilience within society. This work group was made up of students from the Master Crisis & Security Management.' 

Challenges

'It's extraordinary to see students tackle these projects with such a professional and self-sufficient approach’, say Kevin and Samuel.  Both students have learned a lot from starting 'Students against Corona'. 'People's responses have been very positive when we tell them of our initiative. Especially in the beginning, we had to make ourselves vulnerable and present a plan that didn't exist yet, that was a real challenge. We've also had to reinvent ourselves a couple of times and had to let go of existing conceptual frameworks because we were trying to set up a type of organisation we were unfamiliar with. What type of roles are needed, how do you go about setting up an efficient organisation that isn't top heavy? A lot of our previous experiences, from for instance student work groups or associations, didn't turn out to work quite the way we'd expect them. For instance, 'traditional acquisition' turned out to be not very effective in getting our initiative across. This makes it a challenge to create a steady influx of assignments for the growing number of students participating.' 

Contribute to an assignment

With a large number of participating students and several ongoing projects, the platform is growing rapidly. Institutions looking for assistance and eager to contribute an assignment for 'Students against Corona' can apply using the website.

Samuel Hartman and Kevin Hofman
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