In the early days of the pandemic our mindset was on survival – between the bushfires and COVID-19, we were seeing widespread impacts on our students and their families and in turn, also an impact on the College. Despite a return to Stage 3 restrictions in Victoria, the College is optimistic about surviving and it is time to consider what it might mean to thrive.
The optimism flows from the overwhelming support that so many have offered, students, parents, Wyverns (both individuals and the Wyvern Society), staff, Council members, Fellows and friends.
Many have given practical financial support through our COVID-19 Student Support Fund to enable students to continue at College and I am very pleased to announce that almost all of our students will be returning for the second half of the year.
Other support has also been greatly appreciated. We’ve received both formal and informal emotional support as well as intellectual support from Wyverns and friends who have volunteered time to take part in Career Ready forums and Scholar Online discussions.
The pandemic forced us to make many rapid changes in how we operate. However, Queen’s seeks to thrive in this environment by taking the opportunity to re-examine the value of the College experience and how it is delivered. We have tried new ways to deliver our services and engage our community, and when combined with our traditional methods, promises many new exciting options in the future.
Some of the changes made in the past few months include:
- Recognising that the graduate job market is going to be tough, and putting a stronger focus on our CareerReady program, and utilising our expert Wyverns to share their experiences and advice
- Moving our Dine with a Scholar program ‘online’ which gave us the opportunity to invite academics from further abroad to share their experience with our students
- Developing virtual tours since visitors are not permitted into College – this will remain valuable post-pandemic for interstate and international students who are unable to physically visit.
- Our Orations and forums are being held online which has allowed non-Victorian Wyverns to attend for the first time. Post pandemic, we hope to run these events as joint in-person and online events to give greater access to our Wyverns.
Suzanna Arundhati Roy, the winner of the Man Booker literary prize for 1997 for her book The God of Small Things, has recently written:
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
We thrive, not by waiting to ‘return to normal’, but by enthusiastically embracing the changes and seeing how they can continue to be applied post-pandemic for the wider benefit of our students, our Wyverns, and the College.
Dr Stewart Gill OAM