Students and staff at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) are to be made to sign the “Cúram Dá Chéile”, a community promise that they will stay informed, report symptoms of Covid-19, take measures to get tested and self-isolate if necessary.
They will also be required to “recognise” that the new academic year constitutes an “ever developing situation – one which requires everyone’s ongoing vigilance and personal responsibility”.
The announcement was made this morning, as part of NUI Galway’s 2020/2021 Covid-19 response plan, with the NUI Galway President, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, calling on students and staff to “buy-in” for the collective good.
The commitment to safety and wellbeing agreement will also require that students act respectfully if their actions are challenged, and that they avoid environments that run counter to the principles stated in the promise. The commitment will fall under the College’s harassment and intimidation policy.
“We are asking each student to sign up to be part of our university community, to behave appropriately, to consider others, to follow our advice and public health guidelines, to act responsibly and to respect everyone in the university and the wider community,” said Ó hÓgartaigh.
NUI Galway have planned a mixture of in-class and online learning for the upcoming academic year, and an expert work group will be set up to support behavioural change amongst students.
The Department of Further and Higher Education has recommended that students should wear face masks when attending higher level institutions and in situations where maintaining two metres social distance is not possible.
Ó hÓgartaigh, speaking to The Irish Times, stated:“We are asking students now not to be the minority which lets us down. None of us want to see last weekend’s reckless scenes in a Dublin restaurant or on US campuses played out elsewhere.”
The Dublin incident referred to by Ó hÓgartaigh occurred on August 15, with videos emerging on social media showing a venue at which a man danced on a bar and poured drinks into other people’s mouths.
“Cúram Dá Chéile is a big ask,” the NUI Galway President explained. “It has the power to be a guiding light – for the University, as more than an academic institution, to show solidarity with the wider community and reduce the spread of Covid-19. What keeps us apart can be the very thing that brings us together.”
On August 5, the Department of Further and Higher Education announced that a one metre distancing rule would apply to universities, with one way systems and controlled access to accommodation introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when colleges resume.
Last week, NUI Galway contacted An Garda Síochána over the harassment of a student on campus. The video, which was posted to Twitter, showed a man shouting racial slurs and other abuse at the student.