This is possibly one of the hardest things I’ve had to write during my time as your Guild President. These are difficult times for all of us and there is likely to be even more challenges on the horizon.
With the Guild of Students beginning to close its doors and the University transitioning to online teaching and resources, we must now be innovative in how your Officer Team will continue to support you during this difficult time. As a student representative body, we will continue to support, uplift and represent you. However, this does mean that our priorities and ways of working will be changing.
• We will continue to ensure academic priorities are resolved and students are supported as best as possible in this transition period
• We will regularly communicate University updates to students and tailor communications to the different groups we have in our campus community
• We will launch a Virtual Neighbourhood to keep our community connected and educated
• We will fight for financial support for students and staff during this crisis
• We will host more Guild and student group activities online and create a space for us all to come together
• We will regularly be available to contact for guidance and support when we are working from home
I know for many this is not how you expected your time at University of Birmingham to end. Future planned celebratory events may not seem all that celebratory right now. Events you have been looking forward to may have been cancelled or postponed. The emotional goodbyes and dissertation photos around campus seem almost like a dream at the moment. I want to say that, although the severity of this situation is continuing to escalate, it is okay to feel saddened. It Is okay to feel a bit lost. It is okay to feel disheartened and anxious. To ignore that hurt is to ignore the gravity of the situation. Though these are dark times, we must stick together as a community to strengthen our resolve.
We will get through this together as a student community. When it seems that all that is left is despair, you must fight to find that light at the end of the tunnel. Small steps lead to big changes. We all have our part to play in finding our light and enabling others to find theirs.
Don’t over indulge in shopping unless it is essential. There will be enough for all providing we do not panic buy. Protect the vulnerable by self-isolating if you display symptoms of a cough or fever. You may feel healthy and able to shake it off, but others are not that lucky. If you are self-isolating or working from home, stick to a routine and put your wellbeing first. Stimulate your mind, learn a new skill, try to be active where you are able. It’s easy to want to stay in bed and let the world pass by but, as Dolly Parton would say, ‘you need to yawn and stretch and try to come to life’.
But most importantly. Check in on those around you. Your friends. Your family. Your colleagues. Your neighbours. In pooling together, they can be there to support you and you them.
To every student. To every staff member. To your families and to your friends. Please take care of yourselves during this time. It is going to be difficult; I think we have all come to terms with that. But by being pragmatic. By being compassionate. By being kind. We can make it through this – together.
I hope to see you all again one day, when Old Joe will return to his famous bongs and our campus returns back to its vibrancy that I know we all miss.
Guild President 2019-2020