UEA STUDENTS & THE PANDEMIC
WeaskedaElizafromUEA,to sharewithusherviewonthis verystrangeandunchartered15 months.
all studyhadbeenmovedonline, graduationhadbeen cancelled,and manyreturnedhomenotknowing whentheywould be back.Over a year later, graduationhas been postponedagain,andmanyof us, includingmyself,havehadnoin- personteaching sinceMarchlast year.As
a student, Iwas interestedto knowhowthepandemic, thevarious lockdowns,andthe ever-changing ruleshadeffectedtheUEA community.
There hasbeenamixedbagof responses.Th
e disappointmentof anotherpostponedgraduationwas, of course, disheartening.Fo
llowing theannouncement IG&FBwere awash with finalyears expressing their frustration.Pa
rticularlysince the government areworking towards ending social distancingonthe 21st Juneour graduationwouldhappen aſter this. Some sawthedecision coming. Hannah, a thirdyearEnglish Literature student, said“[thedecision] didn’t come as abig shocktome,and while it isannoying,andwehaven’t beentoldanythingabouthownext year’s ceremonywillwork, they’re doingwhat theythink is best”.
OtherUniversitieshave alsomade theunpopulardecisiontocancelor
30 / JUNE-JULY 2021 / OUTLINEONLINE.CO.UK
announcedthat they would close allbut essential serviceson campus.Aw
ever, LincolnUniversityannouncedthey weremaking au-turnontheir cancellation…More than9,700Lincoln students signeda petitionagainst the university’sdecisionnot toholdin- personceremonies thisyear.
Finalyear studentshavehadtoadjust to the fact that theendof theirdegree will bevery different, firstyear students have alsohada strange experience. Starting universityis adaunting time, but for the freshers in September, restrictionsmeant the usual festivities werenotpossible. Juliette saidher experiencehadits upsides: “[there’s]no doubt that freshers hasnotbeenthe sameandat first Iwas reallyannoyed thatnoevents couldtakeplace,but at leastwe couldgoout in groupsof six, andluckilyI foundanamazing groupof friends inmyflat sowemade themostof whatwe could”.There isnodoubt that theopportunitytomove intohallsmade apositiveimpactonstudents,mostof whomhadbeenin lockdownathome with familyprior toSeptember.
However,prolongedsocial isolationhas definitelyhaditsdownsides foryoung people. “Nearlythree quarters (73%)of students saidthat theirmentalhealth declinedduring the lockdown”.Mental Health services atUEAhavebeen stretchedover the past fewyears,and criticisedbythe studentbody.How
ever, during thepandemic, societies atUEA likeHeaducatehave reallysteppedupto themarkin termsof trying toraise
awarenessofmentalhealth in this challenging time.Th
eSUhave alsobeen working hardtoensure the social aspect of universityremains asnormal as possible,andrecentlyreopenedthe bar outside.
Clubsandsocietieshavebeenintegral toboosting studentmorale thisyear. ManyofUEA’s student ledgroupshave been.One
of the clubs I’m involvedwith, Ballet,havedone a particularly impressive job,working toensure that classes, socialsandrehearsals couldgo ahead. Juliette,whois alsoa partof Ballet, saidthat the clubhasbeen“a greatwaytokeepbusyanddo somethingyouenjoy”. Student led groups, campaignsandclubshavebeen at theheartofkeepingUEAstudent’s goingover the bestyear.
Mytime atUEAmaybe drawing toa close,but formanystudents, the return tonormal studyis,hopefully,imminent. I’m surewe’ll lookbackonouronline days with amixofanger, frustration,and disappointment that therewasnot muchsupport giventousbythe governmentduring this time.How
ever, manyof us still got tolive with friends, carryonwith extra-curricular activities, andtriedtomake the bestoutof a bad situation. Iknowthat I forone will always rememberthe effortput inbymy fellowstudents, atUEAandacross the country, tosupport eachother.
Words Eliza Duckworth
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