Petitions and social media rumours: Oxford Brookes still has no plans to close amid coronavirus fears

“This is an anxious time for everyone”

An email was sent to all students this morning addressing the spread of rumours and fear mongering across social media regarding coronavirus. This comes after the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was announced on Friday.

Alistair Fitt, Brookes’ Vice Chancellor, and Harry Bower, the President of Brookes student union, sent out an email affirming the university’s capability to deal with the covid-19 scare.

They also assured students that they are telling everybody as much as they can about the situation, and reiterated that the university has a duty of care as well as a legal obligation to “protect the students who may have fallen ill”.

They also said that “rumours and hearsay are unhelpful in these situations”, and urged students to resist adding to the “uncertainty by speculating on social media”.

Despite the assurances of the student union, a student has taken it upon themselves to set up a petition urging the university to close. The petition has already got over one thousand signatures in its first three hours.

The petition states that “There are 22 cases of Covid-19 in Oxfordshire, the most in the country, and unlike Salford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Southampton universities, who are among the latest to rearrange teaching and exams to limit the spread, Brookes seems to want to wait until it is too late to make a difference.”

The petition also claims that “the university is taking government advice; advice that has been criticised by more than 200 scientists and is an approach that will put the NHS under additional stress.”

It’s clear that the university are doing everything they can, and in their email from this morning, they mention how this is an “extraordinary time” and the situation is “placing huge demands on many people”.

In a statement release today, Brookes Student Union have said: “This is a difficult time, and every decision taken is a matter of judgement. It is important to note that for some of our students, closure is not a viable solution as some courses cannot be moved online. Long-term social distancing may also have a negative impact on the wellbeing of our members.”

“What is important at this time is that students continue to listen to relevant communication from the university and government and try and avoid social media speculation on what is going on and what is best to do. Please continue to review the guidance and information posted by the university on their FAQs: