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A close up of a Christmas tree

The end of our first term as a member of Durham's family of colleges is a historic moment. We have much to be proud of.

In this final week alone, South College musicians have had the honour of seeing their original compositions included in Durham Music's Michaelmas 2020 mixtape South fresher Edward Osborne (English Literature) won the Michaelmas Song Writing competition. Another South fresher, Ewan Murphy (PPE) won a prestigious Vice Chancellor's Scholarship for Sport. 

Such excellent individual achievements are additional reasons to celebrate at the end of a term in which we have drawn together as a community and made the very best of difficult circumstances. It has not been perfect, but your efforts in an incomparably challenging year, have created the closest possible approximation of a true Durham experience. To all who have made this possible, including our excellent JCR Executive, our Welfare team, presidents of Societies, FREPs etc. a huge thank you. A spirit of optimism and mutual endeavour pervades South College. 

I wish I could confidently say the same about the national mood in the UK. The arrival of Covid vaccines and the expansion of testing give us reasons to believe that Epiphany Term will bring greater access to the wider student experience we crave. However, the increasing likelihood that Britain will leave the European Union without a formal trade deal gives cause for concern.

In the long term, the underlying strength of our institutions and our economy will see us through. But immediate disruption to trade, travel and services is likely. There will be consequences for prosperity. If a No Deal Brexit is the outcome, Britain will not fall off a cliff. Predictions of economic Armageddon simply confirm that aspects of our national politics have become infantile. However, the economy will take time to adapt to new challenges. As I write, I still hope that both parties to the negotiations will find the political courage and wisdom to compromise. A deal would be a nice Christmas Present.

Come January, whatever is the basis for Britain's relationship with our nearest neighbours, I hope to host formals every week and to toast Oswald with renewed zeal. Our mascot reminds me that 'Civitas totius mundi' implies a sincere commitment to tolerance and internationalism. This in turn reminds me that the psychodrama afflicting Britons may be trivial compared to the pressure on residents from elsewhere in Europe and the wider world. South is a wonderfully international College and the diversity this brings enriches us all immensely. I am determined that, in 2021, we should celebrate the 'totius mundi' aspect of our identity with real pride. 

Until then, I wish every member of our community a happy and restful festive season. If you have chosen to remain in residence over the vacation, please note that my colleagues and I will be in College until December 18th. So, if you have a spare moment, don't hesitate to drop in. We will be delighted to see you.