CSC lays out plan for socially distanced Freshers’ Week

The organisation said it “didn’t hear” from College about having two such weeks, despite the Provost’s promise

The Central Societies Committee (CSC) laid out its proposed format for Freshers’ Week society activities at a town hall meeting this afternoon.

The draft plan laid out by the CSC is to be submitted to College, chiefly the Dean of Students, and is subject to the approval of the College Safety Officer. The plan is for a limited set of Freshers’ Week events involving 1 metre of social distancing at all times.

Separate contingency plans were also made for much less limited in-person scenario and for an entirely online scenario, in the event that government and College’s restrictions on activities tighten or loosen significantly.

The plan is for a mixture of online and in-person events throughout the week of September 20. The Freshers’ Fair, which traditionally involves societies running stands on campus to sign up new members, will run for three of the five days, spread out throughout the week. Only one member of each society will be allowed to operate the stand at a time, Fair attendees will be asked to observe social distancing, and all sign-ups will be run through the online platform that was used last year, with no cash transactions permitted.

Most events will take place outside, with a number of bookable outdoor event spaces set up around different parts of campus. Indoor events will be allowed with social distancing, but this will restrict smaller society rooms from being used. The New Square marquee, set up for student “breakout spaces” during the pandemic, will also be bookable by societies for events.

Second Freshers’ Week

Despite Linda Doyle promising earlier this afternoon that “we will be having two Freshers’ Weeks” for those who missed out on having one last year, the CSC said it had no plans to organise activities during the week of September 6, when returning students have their orientation week. CSC chair Ben McConkey said CSC “didn’t hear much about there being a senior Freshers’ Week, it wasn’t something [they] heard from College”.

Online sign-ups for societies will open on that date and societies will be able to organise events independently to the extent College is permitting such events, but there will be no Freshers’ Fair or other CSC-sponsored activities. Returning students and postgraduates will be in their second week of classes when the full Freshers’ Week begins on September 20.

McConkey said it would be “unreasonable” to ask all societies to do Freshers’ Week twice, and that there would not be sufficient time to plan activities for orientation week given the government has still yet to articulate precise regulations around on-campus activity.

Hybrid events

The CSC also said that it will lobby College to allow students to access campus throughout term on presentation of their student ID, without requiring a scheduled class or library booking. The organisation also strongly encouraged societies to hold online events alongside in-person events, in particular to facilitate students who will not be able to physically attend campus during Freshers’ Week or throughout the term.

Vaccination status of participants will not have any bearing on the ability to hold events. The CSC said College specifically instructed them not to prepare any plans taking into account vaccination status.

Freshers’ Week and orientation for first years begins on September 20, with those students beginning class on September 27. Returning students and all postgraduates will have a week of orientation beginning on September 6, with classes beginning September 13.

Earlier today, Provost Linda Doyle said “everyone will have some in-person teaching experience” but that precise details of the return to campus depend on communication from government.

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is the Editor-in-chief of the 68th edition of Trinity News. He is a Computer & Electronic Engineering graduate, and a former Assistant Editor, Online Editor, and Deputy Online Editor.