This came the day after a flurry of activity, and guidance from Universities Scotland, which all left many questions still hanging. She answered a fair few of them.
You can watch the whole thing back if you like:
If you want to listen to the whole broadcast, it is here: https://t.co/zlJDGVmPtu
— David Kernohan (@dkernohan) September 25, 2020
The key thing I took away from it was how keen she was not to come across like she was blaming students, and how much she softened what felt last night as mandatory requirements into requests made with a belief that the majority want to do the right thing. Reading the Universities Scotland statement for the first time (as Jim did yesterday) it very much felt like being shouted at and threatened. She was very clear that students are not being blamed for the current rise in Covid-19 cases. The tone has changed.
Students are being asked not to go to the pub, to the restaurant, to the cafe over this weekend. It is appreciated that this is a difficult request, but it is believed that this will help reduce virus transmission based on infections students may have had when they first came to university. This applies to all students, not just those living in halls. But it does not apply to students who work in one of these settings – it was clear that students have to work to support themselves and this had been taken on board. House parties are right out.
Enforcement – yesterdays’ red and yellow cards – are, like the fines that can be issued to the general public, a last resort. Universities will be asked to act proportionally in punishing unwelcome behavior. After the end of the weekend, students will be asked to follow the same rules as the rest of Scotland – this does of course leave open the idea that the rest of Scotland could also be banned from going to the pub rather than a return to pub-based socialising for students.
On the issue of students being asked to return home, we are expecting guidance to be released over the weekend. This will cover cases where students have been asked to isolate and wish to do so at home, and more generally where students have other reasons to want to be at home, or are homesick. The point was made that households are not permitted to mix in most other parts of society – so this looks like a better deal for students and their families than was initially expected. We shall see.
On her approach to leadership, and on the response of university principals to requests for information, she said:
Anyone in a decision making position should be open about their decisions and their basis for making these”