I feel something of a fool. My editorial, published last week on the 30th October was titled ‘Half way through term, things are looking up’. That shows what I know and the foolishness of making off the cuff predictions. Instead we as a student body see ourselves once again thrown back into a tighter lockdown as if the intervening months between March and now meant nothing at all.
Students have a right to be frustrated. They were lured back into halls with promises of ‘mixed-mode’ teaching that would keep them safe and able to attend face to face teaching but have instead been blamed in the national press for causing Covid spikes through careless disregard for the rules and been locked up in rooms to stew. (Though student areas have been shown to have higher Covid rates by The Times, a causation has not been established).
Luckily students around the country are putting up resistance to their treatment. Reported in News this week Felix covers protests in both Manchester and Bristol against lockdown restrictions and the Bristol university ‘Cut the Rent’ campaign that aims to make the university allow students to end contracts early and the reduction of rents in acknowledgement of the reduced facilities available to halls residents. We here at Felix strongly support efforts by University of Bristol and University of Manchester students to demand a reduction in fees to a level that is commensurate with the service provided.
We also call on the Union to advocate on the behalf of students. While the College has postponned planned rent increases until next year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic they have shown no inclination to reduce fees this year. This is unacceptable and we will keep calling for reductions for students in halls.
With Interim Vice-Provost (Education) Emma McCoy calling mixed mode teaching equivalent in value to face to face teaching when Felix spoke to her and Provost Ian Walmsley at the beginning of term, it will be difficult for the College to keep up this argument when students are locked up.