Students at Northumbria University say they should not shoulder all the blame for a large coronavirus outbreak at their halls, with administrators at least partly at fault.
Some insist they and their friends have been following the guidelines, while others suggested their peers were free to party in their halls unimpeded, with no oversight from the university.
As of yesterday the university in Newcastle was aware of 770 students having tested positive, 78 of whom reported having symptoms.
Sara, a mother from Kent who did not reveal her surname, said her daughter Tilly, 19, saw ‘no evidence of security checks’ at the private halls she shares with hundreds of other students.
She said: ‘No one patrols the corridors to see if there are parties going on, so students are breaking the rules with impunity. My daughter’s main take on this is that she doesn’t blame the other students.
‘She can see that the university is at fault and thinks that they should have waited until at least January to allow students back.’
Northumbria University was not immediately available to clarify whether it is responsible for policing social distancing in private halls.
However universities are generally expected to uphold their code of conduct where possible, which now includes strict rules on socialising in light of the pandemic.
Ewan Hillier, 21, who studies film and television production at Northumbria and also lives in halls, said some students were not following the rules but argued public figures were setting a poor standard.
He said: ‘When you see MPs breaking the Covid rules such as Margaret Ferrier or the bars in parliament open after 10pm … we are young adults who follow what we are told, and when rules are unclear and the leaders break the rules themselves, how do they expect us to follow them?’
However, Ellie Burgoyne, 19, a first-year social sciences student who has been isolating since one of her flatmates tested positive last week, said the university and her peers had been doing well to uphold the rules.
She said: ‘The uni and accommodation have been great in providing support and keeping us as comfortable as possible as not leaving our flat for two weeks isn’t the most fun.
‘I moved a couple of weeks ago and immediately noticed how strict our accommodation was being when it came to students meeting with other flats, trying to have parties etcetera.’
‘I think it’s a common misconception that students haven’t been listening to the guidelines … my accommodation has been quiet aside from the odd flat having a few people over.
She added that at least 20 flats in her halls appeared to be successfully self-isolating.
‘I cannot speak for everyone, but this year has definitely not been anywhere near the crazy freshers that it usually is!’
Newcastle City Council has previously said that both Northumbria and Newcastle universities have ‘gone to incredible lengths to create Covid-secure environments’ but that ‘a small number of students are undermining these efforts’.
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