We at The University Observer have noticed a marked change since the last Level-5 Covid-19 pandemic restrictions we endured.
The spirit of national togetherness and unity seems to be clinging by a thread. And it is partially justified, we are not all in this together, unfortunately. While many in March believed the global outbreak of a contagious disease would be the great leveller, infecting indiscriminately, eight months later it would appear the converse is true. As a disease Covid-19 disproportionately affects the weak and vulnerable, and as an economic and societal ill it, unfortunately, seems to do the same.
The University Observer is a university-based newspaper, and so we aim to be the reporters, the investigators and the entertainers of the university. By repeatedly highlighting the strife of students, staff and campus-goers, we are in no way prioritising the suffering of our peers over the struggles of the rest of the nation. There is no minimising the burden sitting heavily among the Irish clouds. Small independent businesses, eateries, pubs, sport and so many sectors of the world as we know it are suffering. However, from our contributors and artists to our team members and section editors, the toll that Covid-19 can take on students is the reality we feel. We see first-hand students taking the hit again and again and again; their jobs, their education, their rent, their social life, their normality. While we endured the last lockdown, it feels as though many are just surviving this one.
College life is portrayed as social and extracurricular and fun (which it is), but successfully completing a third-level degree is no mean feat. November is a difficult month for many at the best of times, and never have we known such societal upheaval. With study and academic stress building, we must do our best to keep life in perspective. Exams will come and go, and in the grand scheme are not the most important thing. Be sure to prioritise your health - both physical and mental. Beyond that, every exam, essay, and assignment can be managed.
The front page of our newspaper this issue presents a strange dichotomy. Graduate Entry Medicine students have united to withhold the payment of their fees, demanding a more education. The story and the rise to action echo the anger and disappointment of students at their treatment by the university. Meanwhile, it is so positive that over sixty research projects were awarded funding. It shows that the learning, innovation and bright ideas still persist, even in the strangest and most difficult of times. It reflects a recognition of the hard work and dedication of these members of our community, and support from their tutors, peers and schools.
There are still many reasons to smile, and we hope some of the articles throughout our publication do that for you. The sun shines, the air is clean, and the water is clear. We at The University Observer ask that you mind yourself and each other. Wash your hands, get some fresh air, stay safe and be kind to one another. Most of all be kind to yourself.