Bristol Director of Public Health says Covid is a ‘gift’ to students
She said students should be ‘delighted’ to be in ‘an enormous natural experiment’
The Bristol Director of Public Health has said that students should view the pandemic as a “gift” in a live stream hosted by the Bristol West MP on Wednesday.
Christina Gray, who has been in post since February 2019, said students shouldn’t view the pandemic as a “deficit”, but rather should be “delighted” to be “in the middle of an enormous natural experiment”.
The comments are being criticised by academics and local Bristol residents on Twitter, with one describing them as “incomprehensibly insensitive” and “shocking”.
She made the comments as part of a live stream with the Bristol West MP, Thangam Debbonaire, where they were discussing the Covid outbreak amongst students, and the various restrictions and support.
and Bristol then tells our students should be 'delighted' to be involved in this 'enormous natural experiment", even though people are very ill, people are dead, this is all wondrous times…. pic.twitter.com/j3Nn4RlJYF
— GaryFoster (@Prof_GD_Foster) October 31, 2020
Gray said directly to students: “You are sitting in one of the most huge events that has happened on our globe.
“There will be some aspect of that that touches on your academic world, and I would just encourage you to see this rather than as a deficit, as something which is a gift to you to take, and to explore and learn and engage both within your institutions and your groups, and also with us as a city.”
Thangam Debbonaire had heaped praise on Christina Gray throughout the conversation, and tweeted after the event: “Being a Director of Public Health in a pandemic can’t be easy and I’m grateful to Christina Gray for all she is doing.”
The comments made by Gray were not criticised by Debbonaire, nor by the other panelists Roy Kiruri (International Students Officer at Bristol SU) and Alicia O’Grady (Bristol Uni’s Director of External Relations).
Backlash has been swift since a video of the comments was posted on Twitter, with them being described as “tasteless” and “bonkers”. One person even called for a public apology.
On Wednesday, Christina Gray went viral after Bristol moved into “Tier 1+” due to a significant rise in Covid cases, which was widely mocked on Twitter.
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