STUDENTS in Oxford have reacted angrily to threats that they may not be able to go home for Christmas, writes Eirian Jane Prosser
Health secretary, Matt Hancock refused to rule out a potential student lockdown this week –leading to fury from students of the city’s two universities.
Eli Skevington, 20, who studies journalism at Brookes, said the suggestion was ‘outrageous’.
She said: “The fact that the Government forced universities to open and made us all go back, claiming we’d be safe, only to blame the second wave on us is infuriating enough as it is.
“Young people, especially students, have been demonised in this entire thing, and it’s almost like punishing us more.
“A lot of us didn’t want be here in the first place, and now they’ve forced us to come we’re being told we might be trapped here!”
Abigail Howe, 19, from Magadalen College, Oxford, said the suggestion was “cruel at worst and not thought out at best.”
The English student added: “The idea of being locked down at university over Christmas is really concerning.
“Loneliness and stress already cause many mental health problems for students, in some cases with tragic consequences.”
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Ben Wheadon, 21, a postgraduate student at Lincoln College said the rules would not just affect freshers but all students.
The master’s student from Cwmbran, Wales said: “Even for postgraduates, the potential for students to be forced to stay at university during Christmas is incredibly hard to process.
“If we have to stay at college through the Christmas period, for the safety of vulnerable people, I think most students would comply, but we are only in this situation because of the government’s mistakes and their inability to act in time.”
Barbara Ehler, 21, is studying for a masters degree in English literature at Exeter College.
Ms Ehler, who is from Curitiba, Brazil, said: “It is frightening to think that we might not get to spend Christmas with our loved ones, especially in a period of so much anxiety.”
Rebecca Barratt, 22, from Great Milton, studies veterinary sciences in Surrey. She said: “If we are not allowed to return home, so many families will be left fragmented over Christmas which could have unimaginable and dangerous consequences for people’s mental health.”
Shabri Dalal, from Kennington, studying English at York, said the suggestion students cannot return for Christmas has left everybody ‘very confused and frustrated’ as there has been ‘no clear message’.
The 20-year-old added: “People are frustrated because they don’t understand why, if they are getting in a car with their own parents, straight to their own homes, why can’t they just quarantine when they come home?”
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Alex Packwood, 23, who studies Business Management at Brookes said: “I personally think going home at Christmas won’t that make that much difference in terms of cases rising as long as students are careful and don’t go home if they’ve been into contact with anyone with covid or have symptoms.”
The suggestion of a student lockdown comes as students’ return has seen a rise in cases in university towns, including Oxford.
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