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.
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.
Goldsmiths SU Officer Team
We grouped your stories and experiences into the following key areas:
- Assessments & teaching
- 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.