Last week, students at Birley Halls in Hume held parties with an estimated 100 guests. Photographs of the event reveal many people in attendance, not adhering to any social distancing guidelines.
Since then, the University has confirmed that they are ‘managing a handful of confirmed cases’ in that same accommodation block.
Following concerns over the outbreak, the University assured the public through twitter. Their tweet claimed that they ‘have put a range of measures in place to make our campus COVID-secure’. However, the public information on their policies seems limited.
The University has yet to adapt the current, limited guidelines for COVID-safe student behaviour. Their ‘COVID-19 safety responsibilities’ webpage claims that students within a household can socialise in and out of their house. However, students can not meet friends from other households in or around their accommodation.
No guidelines are in place for mixing off University grounds. They only include behaviour on campus, and within student accommodation.
They threaten disciplinary action, such as fines, or suspension and expulsion for those with multiple rule breaches. Yet, it is not currently known if students who arranged or attended the Birley Hall parties have received any penalty.
As for on-campus guidelines,
How can students celebrate freshers?
Current government guidelines suggest people should only socialise in groups of six, and that they should remain in their own household when possible.
When moving into University accommodation, students may wish to branch out of their new home and meet new people outside their halls. At present, everyone must avoid this. Smaller social activities within student’s new households are legal, and should be encouraged. Larger social gatherings can be saved for a later date, when people can party while keeping themselves safe and well.
Students can go out for a meal or drinks with their housemates, or visit other COVID-secure attractions.
It is important to remember the rule of six. If you are socialising within a group of more than six people, you are breaching the current government guidelines.
However, it is not uncommon for university flats or housing to accommodate more than six people, in these instances, you may socialise in larger groups as long as you only meet within your household.