The University of Southampton had planned to “hold all students equally responsible” for a party that took place in Chamberlain Halls on 29 September. This was a gathering that most residents of that block did not attend – many were not even aware of it taking place!
Socialist Students deem this suggested blanket punishment unjust, and agreed we wanted to put out a statement expressing our support for the students unfairly affected.
The university has now backtracked and students affected have received news that only the people in attendance will face consequences. While we are pleased with this news, we still thought it was a good opportunity to show our solidarity.
We agree and acknowledge that Covid-19 restrictions are essential in order to curb an outbreak of the virus. However, as students, we have largely been encouraged to go about our university experience as normal.
The majority of students have some teaching on campus, and first-years have all been given the green light to move into halls as they would in other years.
In a time where people are trying to form new friendships, and adapting to a new environment, we think it was unfair to expect students to have reported the party.
It’s important for us that in the future we’re not treated unfairly in circumstances like these. The majority of us try to take every precaution to be safe and reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading.
We hold the university management responsible for the situation developing. Staff employed in halls of residents to support us have been put in an impossible situation.
The focus should be on continuing to test all students and staff regularly, and to give support and resources for mandatory isolation periods.
University management has shown that it is incapable of providing this. We call for the democratic oversight of Covid-19 measures by elected staff and student committees.
Vilifying a large group of students – most of whom were not present at the party, or even aware it was happening – is only going to cause tensions within the university community. We call for solidarity between students and staff – to fight for free, safe, and high-quality education.