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A picture of the South College FREPs.

In this first edition of my blog for 2021/22, I am compelled to begin by thanking South College's outstanding FREPs.

My generation would call them bionic people. Outstanding energy, enthusiasm and commitment was combined with some truly exceptional dancing. How you managed to sustain such high energy, I do not know. Thank you a million times for your efforts. They made an outstanding impression on freshers and their parents and on Durham University. South may be new, but we are setting standards of which we can be very proud.

An equally sincere thanks and renewed welcome to all our new students undergraduate and postgraduate. I have had the immense pleasure of meeting many of you in The Plaza, at our two Freshers' Formals and, in some cases, on the Principal's Balcony. You bring to South a vibrant intelligence and a diversity of interests and background that make our commitment to global citizenship vivid. I am thrilled to see you at South, and I look forward to many intriguing conversations, questions, and debates over the course of the year. 

Of course, we still face challenges. The pandemic makes continued LFT testing the best possible way to ensure that we can all participate safely in the exceptional; range of opportunities Durham University offers. Thank you for cooperating. We have a duty of care to our neighbours in the local community and I am grateful for your diligence. 

The cancellation of Formals is a blow, but we must not allow it to prevent us gathering as a community and celebrating our shared principles. It may not be possible to restore normal catering immediately, though I know colleagues are making every effort. However, we still have the main hall in the Hub, and we are entitled to use it for gatherings. If we must don gowns and bring our own bread and cheese, then this is what we will do. Oswald gets distinctly grumpy if he is not toasted frequently. We must not risk his wrath!

Enjoy your first week of classes and, if you are interested in news and current affairs, do join me at my weekly seminar on Friday afternoon. For those with an interest in journalism, it offers a unique opportunity.