University of Kent recalls students studying in areas infected by Coronavirus

Image courtesy of: NIAID-RML

Universities have come together to understand the coronavirus outbreak, first detected in Wuhan City, China, as the virus has now become a global pandemic. The University of Kent is aware of the ongoing epidemic and has advised all students and staff to postpone study, research, and work-related travel to the region. There is an online page on the official website which is updated regularly to provide student and staff with information about the virus. Posters describing methods in which students can lower the risk of contracting the virus or any illness have been placed in various places around the campus to raise awareness of the situation, including Templeman Library. Additionally, the University has contacted students who were studying in China for their exchange programmes and requested their evacuation from the region. The University stressed the importance for the students to upkeep their hygiene and steer clear from Wuhan City. Two third-year Kent Law students, studying at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, located in Chongqing, which is near Wuhan City were advised to return back to the UK. The student admitted that it was “hectic in the region” and is glad to be back home. The University also suggested that the students refrain from going back to the host university for the rest of the academic term. Regarding disruptions in studies, the University recommended that the students complete the rest of their credits at Kent. Arrangements for this transition are currently being made. Anti-Chinese racism

However, for international students from China that are currently situated in Canterbury, the story is different. InQuire got in touch with a student who has been in contact with individuals of the University who have fallen victim to racist slurs and behaviour. Chinese students are “worried about the situation”, apart from the virus they are more worried about how they are viewed in the city. The source claimed that they have several friends who faced discrimination in Canterbury simply for wearing a mask to protect themselves. The assumption that Asians, specifically the ones who wear a mask in order to protect themselves, have contracted the Coronavirus is prevalent in Kent. Moreover, the University has been eerily silent on the issue in regard to Chinese students returning from their home country. This silence has been noted by the Chinese students, especially in light of the Chinese New Year’s Gala held on 27 January. The general consensus is that students feel that the University is not supporting Chinese students as much as they should ideally be doing so. A single email that was sent to all Kent students has failed to suffice the attention that the Chinese students feel this pressing issue needs, claims the student. Chinese students have decided to take matters into their own hands with posts on social media highlighting their reasons for wearing masks. One student posted: “Please be respectful when you see somebody who wears a mask. Stop shouting at us [Asians] by saying something like bringing the Chinese fly to your country.” Everyone should raise awareness of the issue of Wuhan Coronavirus as it is a global issue that can affect everyone.

MUN trip to Tokyo cancelled The highly anticipated Harvard WorldMUN trip to Tokyo has been cancelled. President of the Kent MUN Society, Michael Webb, released a statement on 10 February on behalf of the society explaining the safety hazards and the potential repercussions of going ahead with the trip in light of the coronavirus epidemic. The Foreign Office has also highlighted the increased level of risk associated with travelling to Japan as there has been an increase of 41 cases of the virus in just a day. Apart from the University of Kent’s MUN society backing out from participating in the event, other UK universities, such as Kings College London and UCL, have also opted out of attending WorldMUN. The WorldMUN is already facing problems with attendance as delegates and chairs from around the world are pulling out. As compensation, the Society’s top priority is to refund the delegates airline fees. The total cost of the trip is estimated to cost £1,500 per delegate.

If reparation fails, a case-by-case basis will commence in which “reimbursement or partial reimbursement from the society” will ensue. The Society strongly advises students against attending the Harvard WorldMUN.

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