Has the University been perfect? No, to put it bluntly. However, it is clear that the York has been trying to support their students through these tough times, perfect or not.
One example is with the holiday themed goodie bags, ranging from Easter to Christmas. These are thoughtful gestures, especially for those in difficult situations over the Easter and Christmas period. A chunk of the University’s finance went towards Christmas goodie bags.
An FOI request by York Vision revealed that 1,000 bags were handed out, worth £20 each, with the University spending £20,000 in total. However, this does not even consider the other two batches of 1,200 and 1,000 goodie bags, thus , 3,200 goodie bags cost a considerable price of £64,000!
Some may argue that this was a waste of money ,yet the University did save money in other areas: on average between 2016 to 2019, the University spent around £1,654.82 on Christmas decorations, whereas nothing was spent this year due to COVID-19.
Although the £1,654.82 saved is overshadowed by the cost of the goodie bags, I do not see it as a waste, especially when gestures such as these do help students in various and unquantifiable ways.
Goodie bags alone of course aren’t enough for student’s welfare, and may be seen as a token gesture and nothing else. But to those concerned about this, funding did not just feed into short term gestures, as there are plans to give £2 million to Open Door and Disability Services in the coming year. This is great to see, and it does prove that the University are truly wants to improve services for students in need, especially considering that the budget has increased from £521,000 in 2018/19.
From goodie bags to funding University services, there is no doubt that the University is trying to help students from multiple angles.
There are also other ways in which the University has helped in the pandemic. Earlier this year, testing centres opened around campuses, such as York Sport Centre, the Wentworth car park, and Goodricke College. All are accessible and the testing process is simple, quick, and easy to do. Efficiency and organisation are key with COVID-19 testing, and the University has ticked every box.
With vaccinations for younger people becoming available, we even have a new pop-up vaccination clinic on York Sport Centre. Again, accessibility for students has clearly been taken into consideration.
Furthermore, with regards to accessibility, COVID-19 seemed to have dampened students’ social life. However, two outside venues were opened for students: The Forest and The Lakeside Tap.
Although I desperately want D-Bar back, both venues have been greatly enjoyed by students during a time where students have been blamed and ignored during this pandemic.