Together with 61 student associations, we appealed to the Tampere University management and the pandemic group of the universities community to restore students’ access rights. The appeal was sent last week to the pandemic group, so it could be taken into account in the preparation of the decision-making. The pandemic group met yesterday on 7 October to address the community’s COVID-policies for the rest of the year. We are hugely disappointed that our appeal was not taken into account. The continuation of restrictions on students’ access rights was justified by the prevailing COVID-situation, monitoring and risk minimization. At the same time, however, the authorities are reducing the restrictions and the University is also abandoning restrictions on the number of people in different facilities. We think this is contradictory.
We are very disappointed in the decision to restrict students’ access rights without clear justifications. This decision is not proportionate to the current pandemic situation. This decision ignores the needs of students and undermines the entire student community’s confidence in the University. Round-the-clock opening hours are necessary for normal student life to return to campus, and as our COVID-survey shows, the University’s restrictions on campus facility use have negatively impacted both student well-being and the progress of studies, adding to loneliness. Restricting students’ access rights has also made it more difficult for student associations to operate. It is unfortunate that these factors were not taken into account in the pandemic group when preparing these policies. We feel that with its decision, the University is communicating a motion of mistrust to students: from the University’s point of view, students spending time on campus is such a high risk that it needs to be controlled and limited. The University expects students to have trust in their own activities and now it would be time for the University to trust students.
Returning students’ access rights would enable diverse studies, safer passage for students belonging to a risk group, the activities of student associations as well as vital student encounters. These are not fulfilled while campus opening hours are limited. With this policy, the University does not promote the health or safety of students, only worsens them. We hoped that the preparation of end of the year policies would have respect for the wishes of students and include guidelines in line with the current pandemic situation, but not this time.