An open letter from the students of Liverpool university.
The short film put out by the University of Liverpool this Christmas began “A year like no other”, a sentiment repetitively churned out in the last 12 months but nevertheless true. 2020 has indeed been incredibly different from any other year before, with the spread of COVID-19 being responsible for numerous challenges in both the personal and private sphere. I would like to think that as students we have adapted to these challenges with exceptional grace and understanding, and I recognise this has been equally as difficult for staff who have done the same.
However, with final assessments looming in January many have failed to understand why the University of Liverpool have thus only deemed it necessary for staff to have a break. Utterances of “I won’t be checking my emails over Christmas” and “please don’t contact me” have shown an astonishing lack of support for the assessment season. Many are still left without timetables, instruction and critical advice. I am not asking the university for the world, I am asking for recognition that we are all only human struggling through an exceptionally challenging year and a brief reprieve for reflection at the end is extremely necessary. Many have been ill themselves, lost loved ones or struggled to cope with a situation so entirely dissimilar from what one would expect.
Thus, I would ask that the University should consider extending all current assessments by at least two weeks. If we are expected to understand that staff currently find themselves without the time to grade our work within previous boundaries, it should also be noted that it cannot be completed within a similar time frame. I would urge you to remember how many students supported staff during the UCU strikes, this support must be reciprocated.
In addition, the complete disregard and lack of care from Academic Advisors is astounding. I, as many others, have always been told that they are our first port of call to help us both adjust to university and deal with any issues that arise. There is a general feeling amongst my fellow students that we have been abandoned by the university. Sending round emails touting the University Mental Health Service is not sufficient, especially in response to emails sent to our AA asking for help. We should not have to battle for a meeting with our Academic Advisor; not when nine grand has been paid in full.
Further to this, performative gestures of Christmas propaganda videos and gift bags, given out after the majority of students have gone home, cannot make up for the fact that many are struggling financially. Renting property in Liverpool they dare not return to, paying full price for a degree that is not worth even half of that and paying it to a University which does not care enough to provide adequate mental health support or even reply to a simple email.
The video ended on “From Liverpool with Love”, the irony does not fail to escape me.