‘The only thing declining is my mental health’: Students on Exeter’s ‘soft lockdown’

Over 1,700 Exeter students told us they thought the policy wasn’t effective

Since Exeter university imposed a “soft lockdown” on students, the majority students have abided by the university guidelines.

Recently, Exeter extended this by an extra week, meaning the “soft lockdown” imposed solely on Exeter students is now meant to continue until October 19th. This has caused anger and frustration amongst many students, for different reasons.

When asked in a poll on Instagram whether they thought the university’s “soft lockdown” policy was effective, 19 per cent of students voted with ‘yes’, totalling 398 students, whilst a significantly higher proportion of 81 per cent, a total of 1,715 students, responded with ‘no.’

The Tab Exeter spoke to Exeter students about their thoughts on the policy:

‘It’s stupid. People are getting fed up – we could’ve done the same thing at home without moving back to university’

Molly* told us of her frustration at the fact that university students have been forced to return to university and having restrictive laws such as Exeter’s imposed on them. She said:

“It’s stupid. People are getting fed up – we could’ve done the same thing at home without moving back to university and saved money if we were told it was going to be like this. I feel like I’m just living in my room.

“I don’t think the “soft lockdown” is very well respected by people, as it’s impossible to police properly even in some university accommodations.”

‘The only thing declining at the moment is my mental health’

Another Exeter student, Anna*, told us that her mental health was declining as a result of the restrictions imposed on Exeter students:

“According to these rules imposed by the uni I can’t meet up with my boyfriend or hang out with friends?

“How do they think that we’ll be able to focus on uni work if the only think we can see and do is the same thing all day everyday? The only thing declining at the moment is my mental health.

“The reason they started this soft lockdown was because of big flat parties and people refusing to follow the law, including my flatmates, which unfairly put me in self isolation.

“I wish they had been clearer in their emails about why these restrictions have come into place and properly shame the people having parties for their reckless behaviour, but instead they’re just punishing everyone because of a relatively small group.

“They should have given it a little extra time and properly enforce the punishments for the individuals being extremely reckless.”

‘It’s a shambles and highly offensive to those who actually are following the rules’

Tom*, a third year student, spoke about the university’s lack of enforcement on its policy: “The uni needs to enforce this better. If they were patrolling more and introducing harsher fines or measures to those breaking the rules, this wouldn’t have had to be extended.

“I have seen countless Instagram stories from those breaking the rules, even had Estate Patrol turn up to a house on my road and they didn’t do anything. It’s a shambles and highly offensive to those who actually are following the rules.

“The uni needed to be clearer on the rules in the first place so students know exactly what they should be doing, and maybe motivate students to follow the rules more by threatening further measures.”

‘A lot of students are done with any version of a lockdown’

Similarly to Tom*, Adrian* discussed his concern over the university’s lack of enforcement on the policy, and how students have responded to the rules: “No one stuck to the previous ‘soft lockdown’ and I think a lot of students are done with any version of a lockdown.

“The university isn’t enforcing it at all. Also, if the university wants to handle this, they should do it properly, a soft version of the lockdown is very wishy-washy like they don’t want to take accountability. If they’re going do it, do it right so we can lower the transmission rate.

“The uni is trying, but I don’t think they’re trying hard enough. They are responsible for the students and “soft lockdowns” aren’t helping anyone, especially those who don’t live in uni accommodations. The university either needs to be more serious about this and enforce things properly, or not at all.”

‘Everybody in town is now terrified of students’

Speaking to The Exeter Tab, Grace* spoke about the reception of local residents towards Exeter students: “The policy is not effective and everyone in town is now terrified of students.

“Even working in retail in town, customers are wary of me. I’ve had a few people say things like, “we might not be able to shop soon because of all you students.”

“The policy is not effective because it’s not the law.

“It would be effective if people actually stuck to it, however.”

Exeter University has been contacted for comment. 

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