Peterhouse Master accused of Covid ‘hypocrisy’ over private visit at her Master’s Lodge

The Master had a guest stay at her house, while Peterhouse students have been banned from having indoor visits from external guests under Covid rules


The Master of Peterhouse has been accused of “hypocrisy” after having a guest round to her house, while students at the College have been banned from having indoor visits from external guests under College Covid regulations.

The Vice-President of Peterhouse JCR has branded the stay a “slap in the face” for students, saying the Master has shown “blatant disregard” for rules she herself laid out to students.

Peterhouse explained the event by saying the Master’s Lodge is, actually, outside the College and is the Master’s home, adding that the guest in question is “not an external non-Peterhouse guest but an Honorary Fellow of the College.”

Bridget Kendall, Master of Peterhouse, said on Twitter that musician Angela Hewitt had stayed at the Master’s Lodge, and had also performed at a concert for Camerata Musica, which took place at the West Road Concert Hall.

Although under government guidelines a group of six people, or two households, can meet indoors, the College is not currently letting members of the College do so, with a statement from the Master and Tutor of Discipline, Dr Graham Christie, on 19th May stating that the College’s Visitor Policy “does not yet extend to indoor social meetings with non-members of the College.”

Lily Ingram, Vice-President of the Peterhouse JCR, said the visit to the Master’s Lodge was a “slap in the face for students” and called it a “blatant disregard” for College rules.

She told The Cambridge Tab: “Knowing that the Master has completely ignored the very rules that they themselves sent out in an email to students five days ago is incredibly disheartening – this hypocrisy does not go unnoticed by students at all.

“This action directly contradicts what College has told us – that we are all part of the same community, that by limiting our interactions beyond what is required by law, we are keeping the most vulnerable members of College safe. Students have repeatedly been denied access to our much loved communal spaces around College, despite paying the same amount of rent as previous years.

“The Master does not pay rent on the Master’s Lodge, and seems to also not follow the rules that they expect of the rest of the College community. Students have been having a rough time in the pandemic, so seeing this hypocrisy being broadcast on social media is incredibly frustrating.”

Students in the Peterhouse Sexcentenary Club Facebook group, usually devoted to discussions on day-to-day College events and updates, are fuming, with members of the group expressing accusations of hypocrisy about the event.

The statement from the Master and Dr Graham Christie explained that the College banned indoor visits from external guests “in the face of significant uncertainty associated with the emerging Indian Covid variant – in terms of transmissibility, severity of illness and vaccine efficacy – and in order to fulfil our duty of care to all members of the College community.”

The College’s decision is to be reviewed on 28th May when the level of risk associated with the Indian variant “should be more firmly established” and the outcome of the “initial relaxation” of College Covid restrictions “should be evident.”

In the meantime, students not yet participating in the University’s weekly asymptomatic testing programme are “strongly urged” to do so, as “the higher the number taking part in the testing, the more it will increase confidence that further mixing […] can be sanctioned without placing members of the College community at an unacceptable level of risk.”

A spokesperson for Peterhouse told The Cambridge Tab: “The Master’s Lodge is outside the College and is the Master’s home. College regulations governing the behaviour of junior members in College accommodation is based on scientific advice to limit the spread of the virus and to keep staff and students safe and, like all College Covid related policies, is kept under review. Angela Hewitt is not an external non-Peterhouse guest but an Honorary Fellow of the College.”