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Cinderella May Not be Going to the Ball, But We’re Not the Ones Most in Need of A Fairy Godmother.

Without wishing to state the blindingly obvious, this is a weird time in our collective existence. People are dying, boys are washing their hands, and a disease named after a beer is perversely stopping us from going down the pub.  

In a situation so unprecedented, it’s clear that no one really has a game plan and everyone is trying to respond as responsibly as possible to events as they unfold. The University and SU’s decisions to cancel all face-to-face classes, sporting events and even Summer Ball is really the only option to have any hope of flattening the ol’ curve and minimising any end-of-days outcomes.

With that in mind, and while also fully appreciating that none of us are frontline NHS staff or (hopefully) seriously ill patients and therefore we are certainly not the worst off in this crisis, I would like to take a moment to commiserate with my fellow final years, over the sudden, brutal, saucepan-over-the-head death of our final semester. This is shallow and self-indulgent when you look at the bigger picture – but it’s also worth bearing in mind that constantly being told ‘there are people worse off than you’ has all the calming effects of a red flag to a raging bull.

A lot of us were anxious anyway. Now everything is up in the air – lectures, exams, dissertations, and even whether or not we’ll see some of our friends again. Now Summer Ball has been cancelled, graduation might be next, thus robbing us of the opportunity to celebrate our hard work with everyone we’ve come to know and loveduring our time here. Grades-wise, even though we’ve been assured we won’t be penalised, it’s easy to be thrown off your game when you’re suddenly stuck without your normal routine and there’s a pandemic on. In addition, many are worried about vulnerable friends and relatives. 

It would be very easy to continue in this doom-and-gloom vein, because, without wishing to sound immature, it’s all very unfair. But it’s also unfair on everyone else. While this is little consolation, it’s worth remembering to be kind and patient with all the people –be they health professionals or professors – on whom we rely to give us answers and clarity. With that in mind, don’t neglect your mental health and any pre-existing conditions; you owe it to yourself and everyone around you to ensure your needs are met.

I’m going to try (however superficially) to end on a message of hope. People are adaptable, and although it will be difficult, it should be doable. Your friends are still your friends, and we are better equipped than any previous generation to keep in touch and arrange alternatives to the big events we’d all looked forward to.We’re not on curfew, so low-key socialising is still on the table. The community spirit has been lovely; helping others is a great way of retaining some semblance of control in an unpredictable universe. 

Ultimately, we have to accept what we can’t control, accept it will be quite rubbish, attempt to be philosophical, and resist the urge to start a podcast. 

Cathi Westall

Cathi is a Masters student with the PoLIS department and Deputy Editor (Print) for 2020/1.

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