Trinity College releases new guidelines Louis Ashworth

Trinity College has released a controversial “Covid-19 Student Community Statement” with “principles” students must sign up to in order to return to College accommodation. According to an email sent to all students at 5pm on the 10th of September, they must “sign” and “adhere to” the new rules if they wish “to return to, or remain resident in, College accommodation”. 

Trinity students already in College accommodation were told to sign the statement “within 24 hours” of receiving the email. Those returning were told to sign the statement by the 21st September or 24 hours before their arrival. They were told “no accommodation for the new academic year will be allocated until you provide a signed copy of this Statement”. 

The statement lays out 17 principles to “help minimise the risks of Covid-19 within the college environment”. These include physical distancing, reporting symptoms, and complying with testing protocols. Trinity states these principles and measures “may sometimes be stricter or delay relaxation in relation to government instruction”.

In addition to this, Trinity details six categories of “specific measures” they may take as regulations are “relaxed and/or tightened” throughout the academic year in terms of: accomodation, cleaning responsibilities, visiting restrictions, luggage, food provisions, and travel plans. 

The accommodation measures specify students may be required to move rooms, households, or leave College “at any time as instructed by the College, and potentially with little notice”. If students do not follow these instructions they will have “access to College accommodation withdrawn and the Porters will secure repossession of [their] room”. 

The luggage preconditions require students to “bring only the minimum amount of belongings” they require “primarily for academic purposes and basic living standards”. The visitor restrictions prevent visitors "including family, friends and students from other colleges" from entering college premises. 

Trinity requires students to “have prepared travel plans to leave College accommodation at their own expense, at very short notice and at any time unless [they] have been granted permission to stay in College by [their] tutor”. Other colleges, such as Wolfson, have said they “will not ask students to vacate their rooms in any future lockdown”.

It thus seems that Trinity is making preparations for the possibility of evacuating students from the University once again, by saying that "if college accommodation is withdrawn...[students] must return home or find alternative accommodation". However, with with current Department of Education guidance issued on the 10th of September stating “in the event of additional restrictions being imposed locally during term, students should remain in their current accommodation and not return to the family home”, it is unclear how likely it is that these preparations will be acted upon.

The statement details that “a serious case of breach of the Community Statement” will lead the Dean to “recommend to the Senior Tutor and the Junior Bursar the withdrawal of College/College-assigned accommodation and/or the withdrawal of other services”.

The statement describes how “unauthorised parties or gatherings” are “likely to be deemed a grave breach if they contravene government guidelines about gatherings” and could therefore result in the withdrawal of accommodation. 

The statement also gives Trinity “the right to amend this Community Statement at any time, and without notice”. 

The Cambridge Students’ Union (SU), when contacted for comment, stated that “all staff, students and Cambridge residents will be at greater risk if Trinity acts on this stated intention, which is in contravention of government guidelines published yesterday. As Cambridge SU we believe that behavioural guidelines should be collaboratively generated with community members to reflect student-staff concerns and prioritise their wellbeing”.

According to the College, the Community Statement is founded on “mutual respect, integrity and clear communications,” however the SU commented that they are “deeply concerned by the extremely punitive measures laid out in the Community Statement”.

The BA Society, representing Trinity graduate students, told Varsity it “advised those students with any concerns to discuss these issues with their tutors”. They added that “We continue to work with the College to address any graduate student concerns about the forthcoming term and the measures in place due to the public health situation”.They noted the 24-hour deadline had been extended as a result of their request. 


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In March, Trinity was the first college to instruct all students to leave college over Easter, except for ‘exceptional’ cases. 

A Trinity spokesperson told Varsity “These measures are needed for the College to deal with potentially serious challenges in the short and longer term. The College is committed to acting responsibly in all matters related to public health”. They further clarified that “No student will be without accommodation if they cannot return home or have nowhere else to live”. 

TCSU, representing undergraduate students, defended the statement noting they had "complete faith" in Master Dame Sally Davies and the rest the College leadership.  

They told Varsity "In a worst-case scenario, students who can return home, might have to (though it's important to reiterate that those who cannot, will be allowed to remain). This is a reality that all educational institutions face this year; Trinity is merely being honest with its students in telling us as much."  

TCSU added that "aspects of the drafting of this statement have already been clarified and altered. They said they "will continue to listen to comments from students about the Statement and work with the College leadership to make sure that no concerns go unanswered"

The article was updated on 17/09 to make clear that Trinity students may be able to stay at college with the permission of their tutors and thus are not breaking with the University's statement on accommodation. It was also updated to make clear that Trinity's policy does not, at the current time, break with current Government guidance. 

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