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GUEST POST: Enough With The Well Wishes, University Of Malta – It’s Time For Action

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“Dear UM Students, welcome to this new Facebook group! I hope you are using your recess wisely and putting in some effort towards preparation for the end of study-unit exams in a few weeks time. Obviously, you will also need to relax and enjoy the time in the company of your family and friends, in celebration of these much-needed holidays. Do take care of yourselves and others when out partying: please don’t drink and drive! I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!”

This is an actual message – verbatim – that was posted on the official University of Malta student group “Students at L-Università ta’ Malta” on behalf of Rector Professor Alfred Vella earlier this week.

Of course, under normal circumstances, it would be perfectly acceptable to wish students a “merry Christmas” and to tell us to stay safe “when out partying” and to not “drink and drive”.

However, as the number of detected COVID-19 cases rise to almost insurmountable numbers that could put our entire healthcare system into a state of collapse if hospitalisations continue to increase, hundreds – if not thousands – of university students are still left in the dark about what will happen upon their return to university (if such ‘return’ happens at all).

When some students contacted their individual faculties to express their concerns about the forthcoming exams being held on campus, in often overcrowded, poorly ventilated and non-socially distanced rooms, they were brushed off and told to wait until the semester begins and to see how the COVID-19 situation develops.

Another concern brought up by students is about what will happen in the event that they test positive for COVID-19 or are quarantined during the exam period (through no fault of their own). The standard answer is that students will be allowed to sit for the exams they missed during the resit sessions in summer.

How much more do we need to wait as students before we are told what decisions have been made? How many more times do we have to hear “be safe” when, at the same time, we are being told to mix households and put our health and that of our families, peers and educators on the line for the sake of an exam?

As someone who spent the last few months of her sixth form experience and the first year of her university degree mostly online, I would love to continue to have lectures on campus and experience even a fraction of what university life is supposed to be like.

But what we need now is our leaders on both an educational and national level to put our health first.

We need strong leadership (or at the very least, a semblance of it), not messages telling us to have a “Merry Christmas” without even a hint of what sort of measures are to be put in place to safeguard us.

What we need is transparency on all levels.

What we also need, above all else, are the people who let the country reach such an inexcusable state to be held accountable for their inaction and start putting the entire nation’s interest first.

Amy Mallia is a student at the University of Malta. 

Lovin Malta is open to external contributions that are well written and thought-provoking. If you would like your commentary to be featured as a guest post, please write to [email protected], add Guest Post in the subject line and attach a profile photo for us to use near your byline. Contributions are subject to editing and do not necessarily represent Lovin Malta’s views.

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Johnathan is interested in the weird, wonderful, and sometimes dark realities late capitalist society forces upon us all. He also likes food and music. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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