By Natalie Pearse and Connor McCrone.
Yesterday it was revealed that students would be asked to undergo a weekend-long abstention from the hospitality sector, encompassing such venues as pubs, restaurants and cafes.
Quite rightly, this has received a lot of backlash from the student community, who feel as though we are not only being punished harshly but blamed for the recent increase in virus transmissions.
Take us, who live in privately rented flats with a couple of flatmates, and have spent all week undertaking remote learning online in our bedrooms, with the exception of entering the outside world for the odd Costa coffee.
Why is it that we are being subjected to a ban on restaurants and pubs, but anyone else can spend their Saturday night with their household in a hospitality venue?
Why is it that I am expected to do my part-time, weekend job as a key worker but aren’t being held to the same standards as my colleagues who work there full-time? We are being imprisoned by a stereotype.
It would be reasonable to suggest that the outbreaks within students halls need to be tackled, but implementing a strategy that affects everyone under the banner of ‘student’ – whether that be an 18-year-old living at home or a mature student who has dependents, and hasn’t stepped foot on campus this semester – is a breach on our livelihoods.
Rather than creating a localised plan to target outbreaks, a generalised approach has been made which, quite frankly, is nonsensical.
So, whilst the rest of the nation can go out for a Sunday roast with another household (of course following the rule of six, and observing social distancing), students are being confined to the same four walls that we are expected to undertake our degrees in.
It is no secret the mental illness is prevalent in society today. Young people are growing up in a world where suicide is the biggest killer for men under 45. Taking away the only respite the nation is being afforded at the moment, on top of watching the rest of the country continue ahead with their brunches and lunches and evening drinks, is not supportive of the wellbeing of students who are already under stress because of this alien-style of remote learning.
Further to this, we are turning on the news to be hit with headlines telling us we cannot go home to even see our parents. The combination of everything would take its toll on most. So telling us that we cannot relax this Saturday by entering any hospitality venues, if only for a coffee and an online lecture – even if we live off-campus – feels like a complete disregard for the mental health of thousands. Singling us out as coronavirus spreaders is a disrespectful generalisation.
Yes, action needs to be taken to combat this disease. Yes, we have seen infection rates go up, this month especially. But a better thought-through targeted approach needed to be enforced which isn’t of detriment to the mental health of the hundreds of thousands of students in Scotland.