My sincere thanks to Southies resident in College for your good conduct this past week. Keeping yourselves and our community safe during this pandemic imposes severe restrictions on our liberty. By complying with the rules, you set a fine example.
My regret is that it is not yet possible to predict when restrictions will be relaxed. Rollout of the vaccination scheme is going well - and is recognised as a success by critics and supporters of the government - but it will take time to complete. We must be patient.
We must also continue to test regularly. Please take a test every week. The university's central facilities are at your disposal and, if for any reason you cannot leave College, we have LFT kits available. Just ask at reception. There is always a small stock available for those who really cannot go to the central testing stations. Just remember that if you do self-test, you must remember to upload your result.
To the majority of Southies who are at home in the UK and around the world, a very warm greeting from your College. We miss you, and we all look forward to the moment when we can gather as a community in the Plaza or The Hub. I still hope that this will be possible before the end of the academic year. Until then, please contact us if there is anything we can do to help or support you. Even if you would simply like to talk, we will be delighted to hear from you. South remains a community even when Southies are dispersed around the world.
One process that can bring us all together is the election of the new JCR Executive. Please engage with this vital process. Take the chance to meet the candidates and to ask questions. The right to elect our own representatives was hard won. Democracy via universal suffrage is the finest system of government in the world. We are fortunate to have such freedom, but it comes with responsibilities as well as rights. The first duty is to be an informed participant. This is as true when choosing a JCR President as it is when electing an MP, Prime Minister or President.
The extraordinary courage shown by Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist, in returning to face Vladimir Putin's wrath should remind us all that our precious rights are not universally available. All over our world, people struggle to achieve freedoms which we often take for granted. Many involved in such struggles are students. I find their commitment a potent reminder that we should never treat liberty casually. We must always use it wisely and well.