AN OXFORD undergraduate has hit out at criticism of students during the coronavirus pandemic by saying elderly residents have ‘been on this planet long enough to understand what common sense is’ and should ‘stay at home’.

Oxford Brookes University student Arthur Petan spoke out to say that his peers should not be exclusively blamed for rising cases of coronavirus in the city.

The law undergraduate from London also said he does not feel bad for the breaches of Covid-19 regulations by students.

He sent in a letter to the Oxford Mail for publication after a video sent to this paper last month showed hundreds of Oxford Brookes students partying and ignoring social distancing rules.

Oxford Mail:

On Wednesday, it was revealed there were 96 more cases at Oxford Brookes in the week leading up to October 9.

One was a member of staff and the remaining 95 were students.

Mr Petan, 18, said: “It is not our fault at all. It is unreasonable and unfair to point the finger of the ‘red alert’ specifically at students.

“Yes, we have contributed to the rise in cases and yes that may have been due to occasional slips on our behalf.

“Something I have been also told is to take consideration for elderly residents in Oxford who may be at risk.

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“My response to that is that they have been on this planet long enough to understand what common sense is, and they should use it against the backdrop of the pandemic.

“I say this to the elderly residents of Oxford and those angrily pointing the finger of blame at students: if you are elderly or at risk, stay at home and shield.

“Oxford is a city where the population is dominated by students by 51 per cent, let that sink in.

“Although not huge, it is still a majority that needs to be accepted."

Oxford Mail:

Showing something of a lack of understanding, Mr Petan went on: “You were all students at some stage, and I don’t doubt the fact you wanted, and probably did, make the most of your university experience.

“Yet you cannot accept our reasoning on why we are trying to do the same.

“As a law student, I can understand why you reasonably got angry with the flouting of social distancing at freshers, although this is only acceptable through the scope of the law.

“No elderly residents were present, and nobody got hurt.”

See also: Why is Oxford in tier 1 despite Covid rise?

A spokesperson for Oxford Brookes said that Mr Petan's views did not reflect those of the university.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Whilst we respect the individual’s right to express their views as they see fit, we would emphasise that the views expressed do not reflect those of the university.

“The majority of our students are following the rules and are taking the safety of our wider community, as well as their own and that of their fellow students, very seriously.

“Many of our students are working hard to make a positive contribution to the community, for example through volunteering to support those in need locally.

Oxford Mail:

“Many others are on placements with local NHS and education partners as they train to become the next generation of teachers and frontline NHS staff.

“We are in regular contact with our students to make it clear that we will take firm and decisive action against those who fail to act in accordance with the UK laws on coronavirus, and with our own student conduct regulations.

“We take our role in protecting against the further spread of Covid-19 extremely seriously.”

The spokesperson confirmed that since students arrived from Saturday, September 12, 300 fixed penalties for breaches have been issued and that a number of students are moving through the university’s conduct procedures.

Read also: College confirms cases of coronavirus

On Monday, the University of Oxford’s own testing service showed up 61 positive tests in the week leading up to October 9.

The results did not say how many were students or staff.

Between the two universities, they make up the majority of Oxford’s weekly cases.

Oxfordshire’s director of public health, Ansaf Azhar, has said: “The current epidemiology in Oxford shows the virus is fairly contained to younger groups and students.

“We haven’t seen significant wider spread beyond these groups just at the moment.”