The President of the Trinity College Student Union encouraged students to ‘have the welfare of the College staff in mind, and disregard some of the unfortunate language used’Danie van der Merwe / Wikimedia Commons

In an email seen by Varsity, the Master of Trinity College, Dame Sally Davies, urged students to stay at home unless they face “imminent danger”, in the event of which they are encouraged to contact the college. Trinity students should otherwise “join our wonderful silent majority of students who are resiliently getting on with studies and life at home.”

Davies also said in the email, sent last night (04/02), that Trinity is due to consider “a few” cases for return after 22nd February, after the government review of coronavirus restrictions.

She emphasised that “College is not likely the place you imagine it to be”, citing work-from-home arrangements for staff and restricted service provision due to the lockdown.

In another email seen by Varsity, Ludvig Brekke, President of Trinity College Student Union (TCSU), wrote to students that it has been a difficult year for both staff and students, and “the least we can do in return is to communicate with them in a sensible, civil and understanding manner.”

Brekke then urged students not to be “nasty and uncompromising in return” when College is slow at reply or when the outcome of communications was not to the students’ favour, arguing that this is not fair for the staff, and “is certainly conduct unbecoming of us as Trinity students”.

He then encouraged students to “interpret the email as having the welfare of the College staff in mind, and disregard some of the unfortunate language used”. 

Trinity’s Senior Tutor, Professor Catherine Barnard, told Varsity that the College is aware of the consequences of the pandemic and restrictions on students, particularly those concerning mental health, and that “support is equally available, by telephone or Zoom, for those at home, wherever our students are in the world.”


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Barnard added that the College “remain[s] open and listening”, that it “maintains regular contact with all of its students through scheduled online meetings with Tutors and Directors of Studies, as well as social activities and [...] provision of pastoral support”, and encouraged students to reach out to their tutor, the College’s chaplains or its Mental Health Advisor “if [they] need support, guidance or simply to talk.”

Meanwhile the Cambridge SU Class Act Campaign has issued a statement regarding the email. They expressed support for students, arguing that any student who “self-declares as needing to reside in Cambridge” for any official or self-certified reasons “should be accommodated by the University.”

The Campaign added: "In no uncertain terms, know that you do not need to be silent. Resilience cannot be measured by the location of your studies and needing to return to Cambridge for your own safety does not in any way make you less resilient."

The TCSU has been contacted for comment.

Update (06/02/2021): Trinity College responded to a request for comment and comments on behalf of the College have been added accordingly