Opinion: Everyone blames students for spreading the virus – I reject that guilt

A narrative has been formed in which students are the folk-devils to be chastised, berated, and punished without consideration for the other half of the argument.

I reject that narrative.

Despite being the least at risk, we are ordered to give up the most, and in dissenting from this order we are punished the most too.

A system has been set up in which we are to feel guilty for simply existing beyond surviving, for enjoying our being, and for living some semblance of a social life.

But I reject that guilt.

We are young, and for many it is the first time we have left home and the watchful eyes of our parents.

This is the time we should be spreading our wings and discovering our potential as people, but we have been neutered and leashed.

Send the kids to school because their socialisation is of the utmost importance, but ours? Leave it by the wayside happily.

Hypocrisy! Is it really the children they care for, or the parent’s ability to get back to work?

Likewise, why is it that MPs can break the rules without reproach, but we, who have no resources or channels to mitigate, are slapped on the wrist with cast iron bats and have fines of thousands of pounds heaped on our shoulders?

The Nottingham Post recently ran an article with people’s responses to the £40,000 fine given to four students in Lenton, one of which described us as ‘wild animals’ which have been chained up.

What a charming simile of degradation to give to fellow human beings.

But perhaps in part I agree; listening to stories of my peers being punished it’s hard not to imagine us as zoo animals being watched by onlookers for their gratification and amusement. Whilst above us, they stand, above all of the mud in our enclosures.

‘At least we’re not as uncaring as them’ I can almost hear them say.

Like Atlas and the world, we are being asked to shoulder the responsibility for the second wave of the pandemic.

But I reject that responsibility.

So you say we are to blame for the second wave. Then I ask where are we supposedly spreading it?

Amongst ourselves in our halls and houses? Or is it in our online lectures we are still paying £9,000 a year for? Perhaps it is in the shops we wear masks and obey the social distancing rules in?

I understand it must be nice to have a scapegoat to pass all the blame on to. I could blame the government’s handling of the pandemic just as easily, but the objective truth is that this virus was never going to go away easily, no matter what any of us do.

It is a new part of life that we must learn to live with. Give support to those who need it most of course, but don’t cripple with fines those of us just trying to carry on.

By Dominic Smith

Feature image credit: Tara Thomas (IG: @secretsandpurplemuffins)

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