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A road sign that says Lockdown

It was the week in which Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, achieved the unique indignity of becoming the only occupant of that office to be impeached twice. I share the disquiet felt by those members of the House of Representatives who voted to impeach him that Mr Trump remains America's Commander in Chief. For me, the inauguration of his successor will be a moment of real joy and relief.

There is little of either commodity around at present. When Michaelmas Term ended, I looked forward to this new Epiphany Term as a time when we could really begin to enjoy life as a college community. Covid has killed that dream. And, until an unprecedented campaign of mass vaccination has delivered tens of millions of doses, a dream it must remain.

Much as I would love to see us all united as a community, I am pleased that most of you have been able to obey the government's travel ban and stay at home. There will be no formal dining this term. No sporting fixtures between colleges. No great student theatre or dance. The life enhancing student experience that makes Durham such a wonderful university is on hold. South College must wait to realise its full potential and make full use of its outstanding facilities.

The minority who could not travel home in December - or who have found genuinely exceptional reasons to return to College - are most welcome. My colleagues and I will do everything in our power to make you comfortable. It will be little solace to know that you are experiencing the most compromised student lifestyle since the rationing, conscription, and aerial bombardment of the Second World War. And numbers at universities then were tiny.

You expected more and I still dare to hope that together, we will be able to enjoy a truly delightful Easter Term. Then, I hope South will host an outstanding first College Day and a sumptuous Summer Ball. You deserve both, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to celebrate these great Durham traditions in our own, distinctive South College way. That is the dream. But we will only get there by being exceptionally careful now 

Until then, remember that South College is here for you whether you are in Durham or anywhere else in the world. This is your College. At South, help is always available to those who ask.