The University has released a statement attributing the success of its operation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to the proactive approach of student leaders, highlighting in particular the efforts made by Senior Residents (SRs) in accommodation halls. According to the statement, protocols currently in place are under review and will be updated towards a risk versus rules-based approach that will rely on all members of the ANU to behave in a COVID-safe way. 

This statement comes as a response to rising stress and pressure expressed by SRs as they become the face of the University’s COVID-19 response within residential halls. A key issue raised by SRs is the tension between providing adequate pastoral care and enforcing COVID regulations. According to one anonymous SR, this renders it difficult to cultivate trust and put forward compliance issues,’ and thus means SRs ‘are incentivised not to enforce [COVID] compliance in order to still have a level of trust with our residents.’ Other difficulties presented include enforcing the ‘No guests during O-Week’ policy which could present barriers to disclosures and contract tracing, the inconsistencies between COVID-19 guideline enforcement across each hall, and an influx in binge drinking prior to events as a consequence of common space drinking restrictions.

The statement underscored that the University’s broader policies for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our entire community still apply during the pandemic,’ and that Senior Residents are given support and education to fulfil their important community leadership roles, and announced the organisation of a SR forum to co-design a more risk-based approach to ‘keep their homes safe.’ Senior Residents will also be able to provide advice on how best to support implementation, including determining the right balance of responsibilities between staff and student leaders.

You can find Woroni TV’s video regarding this issue below.