Not enough study spots, students rejected from cafés and restaurants

A photo of a student’s laptop in restaurant NOK, Groningen, Netherlands. Photograph: Robert Smid

Students are not allowed to study anymore in certain cafés or restaurants at The Forum library in Groningen. If someone opens their laptop, they are asked to leave.

Three weeks ago, restaurant NOK, on the top floor of Groningen’s new cultural center, decided to reject students who want to combine coffee or tea with their studies. This came after they saw their restaurant turn into a go-to study area for students.

Because of the 1.5-meter distance coronavirus measure and the limitation on the number of people inside one room, students can no longer sit close to each other. This forced the university library to cut back on study spots. Because of this, students flooded different areas of the city as a result of these coronavirus measures.  

The newly opened Groninger Forum, a cultural center in Groningen, is one of those areas where students try to study. However, the Forum has a limited number of study places. Students therefore try to find a place in restaurants or cafés where in turn, they are sent away.

“It just takes away the vibes of the restaurant,” said Nynke a waitress working at NOK. According to her, students are not being rejected because they are not ordering anything, but because they change the atmosphere of the restaurants.

Nynke believes that there are not enough study spots in both the Forum and the student library. She does not have a solution to the problem but does believe university faculties could offer more places to study. Another restaurant worker who agrees with Nynke is Milan Bardie, a barista at the Forum’s cinema café. “We cannot create more study places as it would impact the people who want to eat or go to the cinema, we need the help of the faculties.”

This is echoed by Jozette Ottens, a student who found her spot at the Forum,  “faculties should be more pro-active.”

Because of the shortage in study places, students also try to study on campus. The university canteen of the Harmonie building, one of the main campuses, has been a prime target for students to study.

“Knowing students, they will sit in every corner of the building without keeping proper distance,” said Rein van den Bos, facility manager at the University of Groningen. According to him the faculties are already operating at full capacity.

“I would say the hospitality sector should jump at the opportunity to offer students study spots, as it would be profitable for them.” The faculties are working on offering more spaces but Van Den Bos believes studying at home should stay the norm.

The opposite views of all parties involved show how polarized everyone is on the topic. It shows that the problem will not be solved in a fortnight.

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