Current Affairs

No desk? No problem: Merton’s stringent restrictions on returning back to college

Merton college maintains that a lack of a desk to work at in your room is not a significant enough reason to return to college.

The university-wide email that was sent to students by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education this afternoon with guidelines on University arrangements has since prompted a flurry of emails sent by the individual colleges, and they vary in the degree to which they will be enforcing the University restrictions on returning. 

Currently, students are only able to return for the following reasons:

  • You are an international student and have remained in the UK or have already arrived back, or have booked travel which cannot be rescheduled
  • You have stayed in university or college accommodation over the Christmas vacation
  • You require additional support, including if you are having mental health difficulties
  • You do not have access to appropriate study spaces or facilities at home

Merton’s Warden addressed the 3rd exemption relating to access to appropriate study spaces and facilities in his email to students this afternoon. She took a firm stance, saying only students that find it “impossible” to work from home at the moment can write to the COVID-19 support administrator with their concerns. 

She then outlined what this entails, writing:

“The fact that other members of your household may also be home-working and / or that you do not have a desk from which to work in your own room, are not, in and of themselves, reasons to return.”

This comes despite all teaching and learning continuing to take place for Hilary term, as indicated in the Pro-Vice Chancellor’s email this afternoon.

Anvee Bhutani

Anvee Bhutani is the former Managing Director of The Oxford Blue, having also held a variety of roles on the editorial and business teams. She is a penultimate year student at Magdalen College reading Human Sciences and is originally from San Francisco, California. To reach out to her, please email anvee.bhutani@magd.ox.ac.uk