President of Burgmann Residents' Association, Ben Jefferson, reflects on being back at College

The value of collegiate education

In the last few weeks we have had the good fortune to see the majority of residents return to Burgmann College under new, COVID-safe policies. First and foremost, this was a return home. It was also a reuniting of friends; a resumption of acquaintances; and a shock to the system in a new, COVID-safe environment. But in addition to all these things, the return of residents to college was the restoration of an academic, collegial culture which I never truly appreciated until it was gone.

During isolation I studied online, mostly from my family home. Even notwithstanding the difficulties of lifestyle change, the shift to online learning was generally a detriment to my education – I found it more difficult to receive information through a screen, less compelling to debate philosophy in my tutorials, and less inviting to attend a lecture on time when it was through Zoom. The thing I realised I lacked most, however, was the collegial network of Burgmann.

Studying my first two years between the Dining Hall, GP Room, Tute Rooms, the occasional library trip and even the nooks, I never realised how much my learning depended on the environment around me. When faced with difficult tutorial assignments, we brought stressed heads together over mugs of milo in the D Hall; outside of assessments, classmates discussed topics over lunch and dinner, and chatted incidentally about convenors and content on the daily commute through Kambri. The buzz of academic debate and the underlying drive that powers Burgmann residents had, for two years, filtered into my work and lifted me up as a student – it was only once it was lost that I realised how much my own learning depended on the learning of those around me.

Burgmann has brought enormous value to my life over the last few years, but it is only now that I realise how much an inspiring university college lays the subtle foundations for academic success. Knowing this, even though my courses will be mostly online for Semester 2, I am grateful to be back at Burgmann, knowing that just being embedded in such a collegial and uplifting academic community will help my studies.

Here rests my case that despite two years of time poured into BRA nights and sports spectatorship, this place has been a true benefit to my learning, and my mind would never have developed in the way it has without the intellectual community of Burgmann College.

Ben Jefferson, BRA President 

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