Students express disappointment and indifference towards College reopening plan

Trinity is taking a different approach to reopening to other Irish universities

Students have expressed feelings of disappointment and indifference towards College’s two-phase approach to reopening.

On August 27, Provost Linda Doyle announced College’s restrictions on campus activity for the first half of the semester. Trinity opened on September 6 with a “more cautious” approach. These regulations are to last up to and including Reading Week.

From November 1, College intends to “relax regulations further to allow for many more in-person campus experiences”. This was previously reported by Trinity News after the news was leaked in a School of Physics email, but a College spokesperson later denied it.

Senior fresh students have begun their own Freshers’ Week , whilst junior fresh students will have an Orientation Week beginning September 20. Mask wearing will not be mandatory for students whilst outdoors on campus.

Indoor dining will be permitted, with students being required to show vaccination certificates or proof of recovery from the virus.

Indoor social events will not be allowed, however outdoor social events can proceed on campus. Events in the temporary marquee by the Pavillion bar (the Pav) will take place, within 1 hour and 45 minute time slots.

Government recently announced their intention to lift almost Covid-19 restrictions on October 22 and move towards a new phase of “personal responsibility”.

Several students have shared their thoughts on this ‘two-phase reopening’ of campus with Trinity News.

A senior fresh French student said that she “understands the factors behind Trinity’s decision” to have a phased reopening “given its central location”. She said: “I think Trinity’s strict decision to return so slowly is fine, as long as we do see increased on-campus activity after October 22.”

After having her entire first year of college online, she believes that a full return to campus would be “overwhelming as many of us are used to working from home”.

Also speaking to Trinity News, a postgraduate student thinks College is “motivated by money” and “doesn’t prioritise student satisfaction”. She believes College is making the “wrong choice” by reopening so gradually.

She said: “By reopening to just allow fee-paying students and paying tourists on campus it reinforces the elitist image Trinity already has a reputation for.”

“So far the pandemic has been a cycle of opening and locking down again” she continued.

She is worried that “Trinity will waste this moment where we have an opportunity to experience some social life and will be facing new restrictions before Christmas, either due to a new variant or waning vaccine protection”.

“It is an especially tough pill to swallow when looking at other Irish universities who are giving their students more freedom.”

Students have expressed to Trinity News that they are generally on board with social distancing and mask wearing rules.

Beatrice Pistola, a senior fresh Middle Eastern, Jewish and Islamic Civilisations student, told Trinity News she thinks the requirements for students to wear masks indoors and to socially distance “are only fair”.

Another senior fresh student said “it’s in our best interest” to wear a mask and social distance indoors, and they are “simply used to it”.

Concerning the prohibition of all indoor extracurricular activities, students are generally disappointed. Pistola thinks College could have “handled it better”.

“Societies are one of the only chances we have to socialise with other students, and indoor events are essential.”

Another senior fresh student said that “it’s a shame” since the majority of students will be fully vaccinated and “the weather is going to start to get colder soon”.

One postgraduate student was disappointed with College’s decision to restrict indoor activity on campus during the first half of Michaelmas term since “it’s the most important time of the academic year for socialising”. She said: “I experienced Trinity as a first year and if I had to choose I would pick the first half of the first semester over the second half in a heartbeat.”

In relation to time limits on some outdoor events, one student said “it’s not ideal”, but they would accept the regulations in lieu of no opportunity to attend them.

It is not yet clear how College plans to relax restrictions after Reading Week.

Bella Salerno

Bella Salerno is currently a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Fresh Middle Eastern, Jewish and Islamic Civilisations and French student.