Message to students from Lachlan Day, ANUSA President
It almost goes without saying that these past few months have been a complete disruption to any sense of normality. I know I am still trying to work out how to spend my days while I balance study and still trying to stay connected to friends and family all minimising my time spent outside of my home. This pandemic will most likely have drastic impacts on how we live our lives in the future, but living through these changes is quite frankly scary and unnerving as this crisis seems to extend.
In saying that, we are starting to see positive signs. The cases are decreasing in the ACT, and people are abiding with social distancing to encouraging results. A large part of this I believe comes down to the strength of the community in the want to get through this together. We have seen amazing grassroots movements in mutual aid groups and selfless community cultures of help. These initiatives have been emblematic of a re-establishing of faith in a sense of togetherness that could not have come at a better time.
Unfortunately, some have used this pandemic as an opportunity to espouse racist rhetoric against members of our community. At ANU, this has looked like malicious targeting of international students in online platforms and pointless blaming for things outside of their control. This behavior needs to be called out for the xenophobic actions that they are. In addition, this should be a time for expressing solidarity with all members of our community that are struggling just like the rest of us, rather than an opportunity to push others down.
Lastly, I think it is important to note that in this time of change, this has been an incredibly relevant time for student involvement in debates around what education looks like in a world affected by COVID-19. A lot of the established norms around teaching and learning are no longer viable and this is an opportunity to work together and create a new best practice. Of course with this opportunity must come a responsibility to be constructive in how we approach issues, and emphasise a want for solutions rather than simply highlighting issues. I encourage students to reach out to your student reps if you have ideas about how your education can improve and we will do our best to ensure your voice is heard.
We have to continue to stand together and we will get through this.