Next year we won’t be allowed to go to lectures but can go clubbing – make it make sense
Why can we go to a club with hundreds of people, but not sit next to them in a lecture?
Ever since the announcement that the government expected to end social distancing in late June, I was so excited for a vaguely normal final year at uni. Having had two years of significant disruption, it was a light at the end of the tunnel and I was looking forward to making up for all the nights out lost to the pandemic. But then yesterday, I received an email telling me I probably won’t have in-person lectures in September – a whole two-and-a-half months after clubs are expected to reopen.
It’s a disgrace that we can go clubbing but can’t attend in person lectures next year, and I don’t understand why it’s happening.
I’ve come to uni to get a good quality degree, not just to go out every night
Contrary to popular belief, students actually go to uni to get a degree – not just to party or go clubbing. I haven’t uprooted my life in London to travel 400 miles away just to have fun. I’d quite like to get that piece of paper at the end of my four years at Edinburgh, thank you very much. And god forbid, I actually enjoy my degree and was looking forward to sitting in an in-person lecture to learn things.
I find it outrageous that come September, I might be able to dance in a room packed with strangers but then the next day, roll out of bed and have to log in to Zoom uni to sit watching a faceless voice talk over some PowerPoint slides. It is unbelievably confusing that a crowd of hundreds of people on a club dance floor is deemed “safe” but you put that exact same crowd in a lecture theatre and they’re suddenly “unsafe”.
Zoom uni is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining
Last year I had just five hours of in-person contact time and now I’m fed up. Almost all my seminars and tutorials last were over Zoom and the vast majority of lectures weren’t delivered live.
Online uni is exhausting and I don’t know a single student who isn’t ending this year feeling incredibly burnt out. I’m fed up of staring at my own face on Teams calls and I’m desperately missing the post-lecture coffees with my course mates that made turning up to those 9ams worth it.
The joy has been repeatedly sucked out of uni and the hope of next year was all that was getting me through. Zoom uni is unbelievably draining and needs infinitely more energy to do the same amount of work or to get the same grades than in-person uni. Quite frankly, I’m not 100 per cent sure I – or most students – can do another year of it.
Unis should be doing everything in their power to make uni life normal again in autumn
Unis like Edinburgh, Leeds, Cardiff, and Nottingham that are announcing no return to in-person lectures are aware of how fed up we are – Edinburgh’s VP even noted his attention to student feedback in his email saying online lectures were here to stay. So, then why aren’t they doing everything in their power get us back in lecture theatres? Don’t these unis owe their to at least try and return to in-person teaching?
Well, unis need to look to how normality is being achieved elsewhere. Last month, 3,000 people went to a government-organised warehouse rave in Liverpool. Meanwhile, just miles down the road, Liverpool Uni has announced lectures will still be mostly online. But how can a rave go ahead but a lecture in the same city can’t? The answer is mass testing. Surely unis could organise something similar to allow lectures of maybe a tenth of the size?
Well, they already have shown they could if they wanted to. If unis and the government were prepared to pull out all the stops in a “military-style” exercise of mass testing to get you home for Christmas, then why can’t they do the exact same to get you into lecture halls?
It is entirely possible a combination of vaccines and testing will mean life will be almost completely back to normal by September. If unis look at this – and how its happening elsewhere – and simply shrug, they are letting their students down. We deserve better than another year of online lectures.