The societal impact of the COVID-19 crisis has not been felt evenly. The virus is currently hitting harder in neighbourhoods with poorer socioeconomic profiles, neighbourhoods which are often densely populated. The consequences of the lockdown have not affected everyone in the same way either. People with a low educational level have been hardest hit – by unemployment, by poorer housing conditions, by insecurity. Their children have suffered most under the new school system, partly (but by no means exclusively) because of limited access to e-learning.
We, the undersigned, professors and emeriti of all of the Flemish universities, are therefore calling for a new Social Contract. We call for:
- the fairer distribution of resources and burdens, including more balanced taxation of wages and wealth
- a socially just climate transition
- much-needed intergenerational solidarity
- the creation of opportunities for people who are finding it difficult to cope with the new knowledge economy.
We also call for careful monitoring of the social effects of the COVID-19 crisis. It is only with more effective social policy and fairer taxation that a caring welfare society can be maintained.
We also appeal for solidarity.
- We call on all colleagues to continue to pay special attention in their teaching and supervision to students who are struggling with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.
- We also ask colleagues to endorse our call by donating €1000. The money will be used for initiatives to boost educational opportunities for children, pupils and students from a range of disadvantaged groups. In doing so, we aim to link our call for fairer taxation and a more efective social policy to a personal commitment to a solidary society.
COVID-19 is exceptional. Exceptional events call for extraordinary actions. The university world has also been tested by COVID-19. It’s still being tested. But at no point in the sudden switch to online teaching were we forced into unemployment. At no point, for example, did the salaries of senior academic staff ever come under threat. For many others, the picture was much less favourable. Through our initiative, 1000 x 1000, we hope to reach at least one thousand colleagues in the academic world. Together, we aim to raise one million euros to invest in the development of children and young people from underprivileged families through the King Baudouin Foundation. Of course, all smaller donations from all members of the university world are also very welcome.