UEA has seen an increase in the number of reports of anti-social behaviour, with a greater amount of security and welfare related issues reported to both senior residents and UEA Security.
A document shown to this newspaper revealed the number of cases dealt with by the university’s Disciplinary Officer process has increased. Cases are only referred to the Disciplinary Officer when there is sufficient evidence an individual has breached accommodation or general student regulations.
Senior Resident reports from the last four academic years show an increase in students claiming they are the victim of a noise disturbance. 400 incidents of this nature were recorded in 2016, an 80 percent increase on the previous year.
UEA Security reports show 2016 had an increase of 74 percent for the number of noise complaints made, compared to 2015. There was also a 65 percent increase on the number of ‘misbehaviour’ incidents and a 38 percent rise on anti social behaviour incidents recorded.
The number of anti-social, misbehaviour, or noise disturbance related incidents dealt with by the Disciplinary Officer has seen a dramatic increase in the last three academic years.
In 2014, 61 incidents of this nature were dealt with by the university, with 131 and 168 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The university blamed the increase of anti-social behaviour reports on a national student ‘pre-drinking’ culture.
Dr Jon Sharp, Director of Student Services, said: “Much of the upward trend in anti-social incidents (most of which include alcohol as a factor) reflect the increasing nationwide trend of “pre-drinking” cheap alcohol purchased from supermarkets at home prior to going out to either the LCR or into the city. We also saw an increase in the number of ‘post-drinks’ – students returning from a night out and continuing the party.
“We also saw an increase in the number of parties and ‘pre-drinks’ in residences where it appeared that new students (who make up the bulk of resident students) had been pressured into hosting by older peers in sports clubs and societies. The University agreed with the Students’ Union a robust process in response to such incidents whereby sanctions will be taken against both the individual concerned and the sports clubs and societies if they hold any type of social event in University residences.”
Senior Resident reports show a 300 percent increase in the number of students reporting they are a victim of sexual assault in 2016 on 2015.
SU Welfare Community and Diversity Officer India Edwards said: “Although many types of incident in accommodation are down, there’s been a big rise in reports of sexual harassment/assault and anti social behaviour. We are pleased that far more students now feel they can raise these sorts of issues with SRs as our ‘Never OK’ research suggested students tended to experience, but not report.
“There’s also been a major rise in anti social behaviour/noise reports. Our research suggests that students now hold a highly diverse set of expectations about student living– and whilst some want a ‘party’ lifestyle, many others need a quieter experience. We’re calling on UEA to explore options in use at other Universities that seek to group students appropriately.
The officer expressed concern with the Security service’s resources.
“Also of significant concern to us is the increase in security related incidents over the past couple of years. Like with so many UEA expansion issues, campus security is a vital service that is being pushed to the absolute limit by extra students- but the attitude seems to be ‘until there’s a tragedy, keep stretching them thinner’. UEA needs to invest now.”
Dr Sharp said the university could not be sure of why the statistics had increased.
He said: “Speculating on the cause of an upward trend in certain social behaviours is always difficult due to the complexity of the influencing factors. It may be that the upward trend reflects more effective use of the Senior Resident and Security teams. The upward trend may also indicate that more recent cohorts of students are less likely to tolerate the kinds of behaviours that former cohorts of students have previously tolerated; this generational shift in the ‘student culture’ might be attributed to the increase in student fees.”
Dr Sharp added: “A large number of disciplinary sanctions arise from an initial complaint being made by a fellow student. A proactive approach is adopted to ensure that any student raising concerns or being affected adversely is assured that the University will support them in pursuing such complaints.”