Some of the most patronising advice unis have given to students during the pandemic
Apparently, living through a pandemic as a student is like ‘learning to dance in the rain’
From being unable to access books and other resources to international students staying up at night to attend classes, the pandemic has turned the student experience into a living nightmare. In this difficult time, universities must step up to provide students with the assistance they require: sounds good in theory, doesn’t work in practice.
Here are some of the most patronising advice unis have given to students during the pandemic.
Don’t see this as a lockdown, but as a retreat
Just last month, the University of Manchester posted a mental health infographic on their Instagram outlining ways to “stay positive” during lockdown. The post told students not to “see this as a lockdown, but a retreat”, adding “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.”
Students called the post “genuinely offensive,” with one adding that the university “seem to have confused national lockdown in Manchester with two weeks in Bali.”
Students that want safety nets are ‘ridiculous’ and ‘idiots’
A Cardiff University bioscience lecturer was caught ranting about students’ requests for safety nets when a video of her speaking to another colleague was mistakenly uploaded to a student portal. The lecturer spoke about how students sharing petition links for safety net policies during class “pissed her off,” and that they were “idiots” for protesting.
Her exact words were: “This is what happens you give them a safety net and all of a sudden you take that away and they’re like ‘Oh my God’. Well, students have graduated for hundreds of years without the bloody safety net policy how do you think we all got here.”
As one student aptly put it: “Maybe because you didn’t have a global pandemic in the middle of your learning, but that’s just my guess, Helen.”
You could walk away from your degree right now
Responding to a four-page long student complaint about mental health issues and disengaged staff, UCL’s education officer Ashley Slanina-Davies told students that they could “walk away from [their] degree right now” and still be “a success”. Her inspirational advice was met with backlash from students, who felt her response was “out of touch” and “gaslighting at its best.”
While the education officer later acknowledged that her response was “patronising,” she expressed disbelief that her response “could be interpreted as telling anyone to drop out of their degree if they are unhappy.”
Using rotas to visit the flat kitchen
Imagine being unable to go to the kitchen… in your own flat. That’s what Cardiff University students were advised to do when they were told that more than four residents must not gather in “communal areas including kitchens,” even when living in a flat of six or eight students. A Cardiff spokesperson encouraged “the use of rotas” for using the kitchen in households of more than four individuals. Thanks but no thanks.
Folding socks helps student mental health
Last month, the University of Manchester emailed a mental health guide to students, comprising of “five foolproof ways to beat the January blues.” What were the five foolproof ways, you ask? One of them included finding a new “low-maintenance skill” like “watching a video on how to fold your socks or learning how to parallel park.”
The guide was said to be created by the university’s student news team, but many students found the advice unhelpful.
Just agree with the ‘silent majority’
An email sent to Trinity College Cambridge students urged them to “join our wonderful silent majority of students who are resiliently getting on with studies and life at home” unless students are “facing imminent danger at home.”
The email came as a response to growing frustration amongst the student community at being unable to study on campus, but many students found their response upsetting. One Cambridge student wrote: “Please all join our wonderful silent majority of students” are “words that should NEVER be said. EVER,” with another reiterating that the college seems to not be “truly listening to the concerns of students.”