Even Freshers' Week Is Semi-Cancelled And Students Aren't Happy

"I don’t get why we’re being punished."
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The Queen’s death has led to a sweep of event cancellations this September.

In the wake of last Thursday’s news, rail and postal workers postponed their planned strikes, the Premier League paused matches over the weekend, and several designers have cancelled their shows for London Fashion Week.

Now, the autumn university institution that is Freshers’ Week is also being impacted.

Anyone who’s been a student will understand the significance of this. Freshers’ Week is a chance to meet new people, join university societies, acquire more tote bags and free pens than you know what to do with, and, most of all, have some serious fun before all the actual hard work starts.

Depending on your uni destination, it can fall anywhere from mid-September to early-October, but a significant amount of students are arriving on campus just now – as the nation marks an official period of national mourning.

Some student unions have formally announced that they are scaling back or postponing Freshers’ Week programmes “out of respect” for the queen.

But, considering how difficult the past few years have been for many young people, is this fair? Twitter certainly doesn’t think so.

Most new undergraduates starting this autumn term come to university at the end of two years of severe disruption to their sixth-form studies – a period marked by national and local lockdowns, school closures, and sweeping changes to their exams and assessments.

Meanwhile, not one of the past three cohorts of students have been able to experience a full university degree on campus.

Unsurprisingly, neither freshers nor some of their parents are particularly happy at this latest disruption.

Ravi Loomes, an 18-year old student from Suffolk is one of those affected.

He’s starting at the University of Sheffield this month, and was looking forward to his first week – until it was announced many Freshers’ events would not be going ahead.

“Given how Covid has caused so much disruption, I wanted the chance to go to university to socialise more,” he tells HuffPost UK.

“Especially as I have social anxiety it’s been very hard, so I was looking forward to going out to try new things with new people,”

He said it’s frustrating that nobody seems to care about the impact of ongoing lockdowns and cancellations on young people’s mental health.

“So many events have been constantly cancelled, when socialising at this age is so important for developing at this age,” he says.

Not all events have been cancelled, of course, and it’s (sort of) business as usual on many campuses as students appear to be partying on regardless.

While most universities will close for teaching and lectures on the actual day of the Queen’s funeral, “it is up to each individual institution if they will close for any or all of the initial period of mourning”, according to Fresherd.

The University of Plymouth Student Union is one such student union to announce it has “rescheduled some events initially planned for Freshers’ Week 2022 to commemorate the passing and Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen”.

But it adds a qualification. “We recognise that this time of year is important to our new and returning students as a time to come together, socialise with new flatmates and meet new people to help build our Plymouth community,” a statement on its website reads.

“As a result, we will still be opening the SU building on Monday 19th September between 9am-6pm. We will be showing the televised State Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen. Food and drink will be available inside the SU after the service.”

Does this tone chime with how many students actually feel? Freshers’ Week cancellations and postponements are only adding to the negative view some young people already hold about the royal family, and their reluctance to join in with the national mood of morning.

Grace Cooper, a 19-year-old student from Kent, is one of them. As the part-time bartender told HuffPost UK this week: “I’ve always thought it was wrong that people can be born into a position of wealth and power, especially one that’s funded by tax payers... It’s sad that so many people are quick to praise them and ignore the whole past.”

As for Loomes, he sums things up this way: “The fact most students still are planning to do things for Freshers’ even after the Queen’s death announcement shows the collective view towards it, so I don’t get why we’re being punished.

“Those who want to mourn can do so and nobody tells them not to, so I don’t think it’s fair that we, who don’t want to, are given double standards.”