Drama Students: Open letter to the University of the West of England

Drama Students: Open letter to the University of the West of England

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Mattie Goddard started this petition to University of the West of England and

This is an open letter to the University of the West of England - the students of the Drama BA programmes hereby ask that our assessments are postponed until mid-February at the earliest.

Much like our colleagues doing Film, our course cannot function or be sufficiently engaged with to its maximum efficiency and effectiveness online. With the fact that UWE will not be implementing a no-detriment policy across the University, students are now forced to keep to the same standard of work as if we are not in a national lockdown; this will greatly deteriorate the standard of work that all students produce across all courses but in regards to Drama/Drama and Acting in particular, we live on face-to-face interaction - it is our best quality as performers and creatives, we thrive on the energy that being on stage in front of an audience, or creating together in a room gives us. The lack of a no-detriment policy ensures that students on our course will not be able to produce a performance, or relevant accompanying rationales, that they can feel proud of; this is not even taking into account our theory modules in which we must produce high quality creative writing, a presentation which has been fully referenced using the Harvard method and if you are in Level-3, focus on your Final Year Project in which most of the credit for your degree resides.

We have been told today (07/01/2021) that we will be performing our practical assessments online. This removes that face-to-face energy mentioned prior as even when rehearsing with masks on whilst social distancing, there was something there. Despite it taking getting used to, the in person hours gave us inspiration, creativity, hope and the drive to adapt to the situation, yet still create. Now we must settle for sometimes poor and unreliable audio quality, an asynchronous response with our fellow actors, hopes that no visual or technical issues arise. In the case of Physical Theatre, a complete re-work of our performances (we now have 11 days to do this and have them ready for performance) which we have been devising since October, all with the idea that we would be performing in-person; it goes without saying that many students do not have the facilities to be able to perform a solo in their accommodation as many of us live in very small students flats/houses or now live with our families so we do not have the physical space necessary to perform well at all.

Ever since we went into lockdown last year nearly 10 months ago, many students on our course have since grown distant from acting and creating as a craft, as the lack of support by not just the Government but the University regarding the Arts is frankly, a disgrace. This distance and therefore lack of motivation, added with the stresses of the Pandemic, is causing deterioration of mental health amongst students. The University has swept us under the rug in favour of solely providing safety nets for those in writing based subjects. This lack of support has left many students feeling demotivated, unenthused and disappointed in their entire University experience, which for students learning how to act/create and hopefully enter one of the most valued industries; The Arts and Entertainment, is abysmal.

Students have been left in the dark by Boris Johnson and his cabinet and by Keir Starmer and his opposition. We do not need to be disregarded by the institution we are paying £9250 per year for, the institution we worked hard to get to, the institution we chose and committed to doing our degree at, on top of incompetent leadership.

We understand that there has been a mass government failure throughout the pandemic to provide institutions with coherent guidance. This is an extremely difficult and challenging time for everyone. We want to be able to reach our full potential regardless. Students and Lecturers have not been given sufficient guidance and support to adapt to the Pandemic. The Government are failing us, and we need our University to support us regardless of what the Government do, or don't do. We want high quality learning, extension policies/safety nets regarding our marks and our futures, we want to be inspired and we want to be reassured. We want support.

Yours Sincerely,

Drama BA Students, University of the West of England.

 

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