Joint statement between UCU, the Students’ Union, IWGB and Justice for Workers

While Goldsmiths College, like all other University campuses, will insist that they comply with Government Guidance and Health and Safety law, the fact is in the Covid-19 pandemic, we are still at Level 4 of national alert. Infections are escalating exponentially, but campuses around the country are open to students and visitors. London is now on the Government watchlist for further restrictions. 

Goldsmiths’ original plans for “red” or remote delivery of online teaching rightly anticipated its applicability to a Level 4 national scenario, so why are we still having face-to-face teaching and hundreds of people allowed in the library?

The decision of Universities across the UK to return to face-to-face teaching during a Level 4 national alert is a business decision that prioritises the finances of individualised and marketised campuses above suppression of the virus. 

At least 20 University campuses across the UK have already isolated students due to outbreaks larger than some entire counties in the UK.

Halls of residence are not recovery wards, nor are they designed or staffed to be. 

Students also need to be made aware of the medical facts of Covid-19 and how it would affect them, as published in The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

•           Covid-19 is not a mild flu that will pass students by.  

•           Medical research from the United States, where Universities returned last month, suggests that 10-25% of those aged between 18-34 who contract the virus, will experience long-term health issues. This is often called “Long-Covid”.

•           “Long-Covid” can include: chronic fatigue, where young adults are not able to resume paid employment, the exercise or sports they did before infection, a reduced ability to perform everyday tasks – like walking to the shops, chronic fever that does not abate and neurological problems with concentration and the senses (sight/hearing/smell/taste).

•           Further medical research suggests that myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) can occur in asymptomatic cases. You may not even know you have the infection, but could suffer serious damage to the heart that can lead to cardiac complications and in rare cases, even failure. 

•           The impact of this will not only affect your health but your ability to study, work and pursue a career in industries where there are high energy demands, so avoiding and suppressing the infection at all costs needs to be everybody’s goal.We call upon Goldsmiths’ Senior Management to switch its teaching provision to remote and online learning until further notice, in order to avoid student and staff illness and risk the pandemic becoming out of control in the local area