We students have sacrificed and surrendered much of our university experience. Freshers’ Week, despite the stories of debauchery we may or may not have heard, is intended to ease the student into university life, giving us an opportunity to meet new people, join clubs and societies, and explore new places. That opportunity has been stolen from us.
Life on campus is drastically different, too. I cannot enter a building without one of those dreadful ‘face coverings’ and must wear them during any in-person seminars. I am lucky enough to have one a week; many of my peers have had their entire timetables moved online. There is no chance to connect with lecturers and fellow students, to ask questions after class or socialise. Zoom lectures, for all their worth, can never replace a face-to-face learning experience – let no-one tell you otherwise.
At my university, Estate Patrol are everywhere, ready to remorselessly disperse large groups, hand out hefty fines and other penalties in ways that make the Stasi look like friendly neighbourhood support officers. I have heard numerous horrific stories from my Russian family about life in the Soviet Union. How can we call ourselves an advanced free society when the same authoritarian measures are being forced upon us?
While our freedoms have been snatched away from us, we are still expected to pay full tuition and accommodation fees (by forcing us into one-sided accommodation contracts), compounding the disadvantages young people already face when it comes to debt and income. Now we face the possibility of being locked up in our halls of residence over Christmas.
I have lost all faith in the Government and the totalitarianism it is inflicting upon the people, ostensibly in the name of “safety”. How can we trust Number 10 when up until June 4th, the Government’s position was that face masks were ineffective in containing the virus, only to completely U-turn? How can we trust Number 10 when the Coronavirus Act was hastily pushed through a moribund Parliament, with no proper scrutiny from our elected MPs? The list of reprehensible actions from the Government goes on and on.
Britain is unique in that she can lay claim to being the originator of the freedoms that Western civilisation is based upon. Right now, however, they are being ripped away from us in a sickening power grab. In 1979 Friedrich Hayek, one of the great champions of individual liberty, wrote, “Emergencies have always been the pretext upon which the safeguards of individual Liberty have been eroded.” We need to hear this message now more than ever before.