Coronavirus updates

Keep an eye on this page to find out the latest coronavirus updates...

Please note, current affairs around coronavirus are changing very quickly, nationally. We will do our best to keep you updated here and via our social media. You can find updated information from the University on their coronavirus information page.

Update on 12th May

Following the government updates about Covid-19 yesterday, we thought we’d send a short update about the Students’ Union in terms of how we’re working at the moment. 

Currently, we are are not planning on making any changes in the way that we’re operating. The SU building remains closed, we are working remotely where we can, and our list of staff currently available to support you, can be found here.

We will continue to follow government advice and will let you know if the situation changes via social media and our weekly SU e-newsletter. If you’re not already on the mailing list, please email comms@goldsmithssu.org and we can add you to it.

Additional links that might be of interest 

If you're a student with a disability at Goldsmiths, have a read of this Q&A blog post. 

If you're in private rental accommodation and need support, have a read of our Q&A from the University of London Housing Services. 

Have a read about information regarding the Library and services that are currently available here. 

Know your employment rights for when it comes to returing to work safely. 

Covid-19 information specifically for international students. 

Advice for living with the pandemic if you already have mental health conditions. 

Update from April 21st

Nearly a month has passed since the government self-isolation measures were announced and Goldsmiths College suspended classes. It has been an enormously challenging period for individuals across the country, and Goldsmiths students, like thousands of students across the country are being left with little support from government… again. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, Goldsmiths SU is still active, adapting to the new changes; to protect and support students through unprecedented challenges. We also want to ensure we stay hopeful, when it feels almost impossible not to succumb to the end of the world.

We, the Full-Time Officer team, have been working from home, remotely, but that hasn’t dampened the political pressure for one moment. We’ve been busy putting demands to the College and local and national representatives to ensure students are protected during this period. 

We’re summarising the work we’ve been doing to represent you in relation to COVID-19. We will keep you informed of our work on the issues that matter and ask for further feedback from you on what we need us to work on next.

Putting together messages from social media and emails from students, we’ve seen students step forward courageously to share their own personal stories, experiences and concerns of friends and neighbours. We share the greatest sympathy with you during this period, and along with this, as your Officer team, will work to ensure the College, and government adequately support students.

Solidarity, 

Goldsmiths SU Officer Team 

 

We grouped your stories and experiences into the following key areas:

 

  • Assessments & teaching
  • Housing
  • Counselling & mental health
  • Student Hardship Funding
  • Justice for Workers on Campus
  • Graduation knock on effects

 

Officer Team: what have we done so far?

 

1. Extenuating Circumstances Policy Amended

We lobbied and worked with the College to ensure students no longer need to provide medical evidence in order to self-certify during this period, and the criteria for what was considered an extenuating circumstance was broadened. 

Whilst this is a positive step forward, we believe the College can do more for students and will continue to work closely to ensure this is achieved. 

 

2. No Detriment Policy 

A no detriment policy acts as a ‘safety net’ to ensure students obtain at least their average grade so far in the year, or with a better grade depending on results in summer exams or assignments, so long as they secure at least 40 per cent.

Effectively, the policy means that any assessment or exam taken during this period will not be detrimental to your current average before the lockdown.

After frequent correspondence and lobbying with the College, we are happy to announce the College has agreed to adopt a No Detriment Policy for all students. 

We are still working with the College to ensure certain students such as disabled students who would have needed alternative adjustments to their upcoming assessments prior to COVID-19, and how the College and Departments are working to ensure this is resolved.

 

3. Student Renters & Accommodation (Private & College)

Unsurprisingly, the government has outlined very little housing protection for young people during a period of gross economic and social uncertainty. Landlords are merely encouraged to consider implementing rent reductions, and evictions have only been suspended for a three month period. Some students are being asked to choose between their health or shelter. 

So far we’ve: 

  • Lobbied the College Senior Management team to share what provision and support students are receiving. We are demanding a rent freeze for all students university accommodation.
  • Demanded the College terminate contracts for students who have had to return home and those having to self-isolate in halls.
  • Lobbied locally and nationally to highlight the entrenched and new challenges COVID-19 has now on the student housing crisis. We sent a letter to Vicky Foxcroft, MP for Lewisham (Deptford) and Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, requesting their support in putting pressure on landlords, government and the College to protect students, renters. You can read it here.
  • Upon this letter, we met with Vicky Foxcroft, MP on (9th April), in order to discuss how she can help Goldsmiths students with the ongoing rent crisis students, are facing; putting pressure on the College to assist students who are subject to paying double rent. 

4. Hardship Fund Amendment and the introduction of a COVID-19 Student Hardship Fund 

The socio-economic impact of the pandemic has negatively caused serious concerns for the welfare, security and survival of millions across the country. 

We believe the College’s Hardship Fund - a significant and compulsory fund available to students facing hardship - must be revised to account for this unprecedented and existing financial hardship COVID-19 has created for students. The College has continued to proceed with the same criteria pre-COVID-19, which we deem unfit for the current economic student climate.

 

5. Emergency Learning Access Equipment

We know that working remotely has meant that students will not have access to the necessary equipment to complete projects or assessments.

We raised this with the College who have introduced a new COVID-19 Online Learning Access Fund; this is an entirely separate fund for students to strictly purchase any study equipment required to complete an assessment.

Although the College has made adjustments for students, we believe there is more to still be done to support students. 

Furthermore, we believe the College should go even further. This is why we are lobbying the College to create an Emergency COVID-19 Hardship Fund. There is an increasing demand for financial assistance from students who have had to pay for rent for an empty room, pay exuberant fees for an international flight, and we are particularly concerned for students who were already in precarious financial situations prior. 

 

 

Covid-19 and renting

Our Full-Time Officers have written to MP Vicky Foxcroft and Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, about the current renting situation for students. Read what they had to say here.

Our statement from 16th March 2020

We support the college’s decision to suspend all face to face teaching with immediate effect.

Our focus is now on ensuring students are reassured in terms of all of the questions and concerns they have. To this end we are in constant dialogue with the college management. For transparency, we have included some of the questions and areas we are seeking clarity on at the end of this statement (see Appendix 1). 

In terms of the SU itself, we will be doing our best to continue all services and supporting students during this difficult time. However staff sickness and some working from home will mean that we deliver this support in a slightly different way. We have covered some of this below:

  • The Welcome Desk will be unstaffed from tomorrow, however emails and phone calls will be answered remotely. Please call and email using our usual contact details - welcome@goldsmithssu.org and 0207 717 2511. From here we will triarge you to the appropriate support. 
  • The Sabbatical Officer team will not be on campus this week (week beginning 16th March) due to some illness, but they will be prioritising supporting students in need and communicating developments using the SU website and social media channels.
  • The SU advice service will remain open, and you can access appointments via the online form on our website. However we will be conducting appointments digitally. 
  • Sports clubs have been informed that BUCS and LUSL activities are suspended for the time being. It is at the discretion of student leaders as to whether to continue their activities but we would recommend that societies’ and communities’ events are postponed where they might create large gatherings. The Students’ Union space is open for use but we are still waiting to find out whether student leaders can continue to book rooms on campus. The Development & Communities team staff will try to arrange over-the-phone meetings with student leaders where needed. See here for our handbook, in which you will find guidance on continuing to access finances and other resources.
  • The ongoing SU elections will continue to run their course through to Thursday morning. The focus will be on digital not physical campaigning. Results will be announced online on Thursday evening.
  • The SU building is now closed until further notice due to coronavirus, however the team are all online and working remotely for all services... click here for individual contact details.
  • The SU Bar and Lounge (Cafe) are open until 3pm today (17th March) although which it will close until further notice. 
  • The SU Shop will remain open today (17th March) until 6pm, after which it will close until further notice. 
  • The nursery remains open but will close at the end of the day this Friday (20th) until further notice. Parents and visitors are being asked to follow NHS advice and not come to the nursery, or bring their children, if they have any symptoms. All visitors to the nursery are being asked to take extra precautions with hand washing on entering the building and hand sanitising wipes are being provided at the entrances.
  • Active Bystander sessions will be cancelled and we will be investing energy into how these can be delivered online. 

If you have any questions or concerns please contact welcome@goldsmithssu.org or consult our staff contact page. 

Goldsmiths SU

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Appendix 1- Areas we are seeking clarification on with the college as of 16/02/2020

* assessments — How will these be postponed and reorganised, what about physical assessments — how would these be graded considering teaching hasn’t and won’t happen for an extended period of time — will there be marking leniency if assessments happening considering everything students have had to contend with?

* online teaching — what about students who don’t have access to internet at home or certain library books or resources that need to be physically accessed?

* online teaching — how will we ensure quality in general?

* some students have been told by their programme that their courses can’t afford to be taken online — is this true?

* what alternative provisions are being made for vital counselling / mental health & wellbeing / disability services — can these be taken online / over the phone?

* will halls be kept open? Can the uni apply a rent moratorium for all?

* will international students’ attendance keep being monitored? Will they be sent assurances re: their visa status? As they have been told previously attendance is expected

* what about international students who are overseas?

* is any kind of equality impact assessment going to be done to judge how disabled students in particular will be affected? how will students on RASAs be supported during this time?

* student support fund — lots of students in zero hour contracts are not getting shifts, have been made redundant and are in increasingly precarious situations with rent / finances — can there be particular attention given to supporting these applications at this time as well as advertising this resource, if not implementing an additional crisis fund?

* knock on effect on graduations (impact of getting a job once year is finished, especially for those on visas)

* will the uni be willing to be open to the local community to use it as a hub for gathering resources, storage, small group organising etc since it’s going to be empty anyway? can there be a designated contact to facilitate this? how is it going to support local community including its students who may be struggling with food, bills, homelessness, rent at this time ? 

* What are the provisions for workers on campus (cleaners, teaching staff, student staff, security) to be able to do their jobs safely?

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