Newcastle University and Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) are setting up a new group to tackle anti-social behaviour in popular student residential areas such as Jesmond.
The decision to set up an official group follows a series of disturbances and increased tension between residents and students. The University has already dealt with noise complaints, which involved 401 students from 84 separate properties, since the term began in September.
Residents’ complaints have included anti-social behaviour, noise at night and overturned rubbish bins. Newcastle University students residing in Jesmond have been in the spotlight, with 95% of all reported incidents happening in the area.
Stella Postlethwaite, a Labour councillor for North Jesmond, told The Courier she was pleased “this group had been set up”.
She said: “As a Jesmond Labour councillor representing residents who live in North Jesmond, I know that a great number of residents want to see the University do a lot more to tackle anti-social behaviour.
“My hope is that this group will develop successful campaigns that can be built upon each year so that over time we see better informed and more aware first years moving on to live in our communities as respectful second and third years, who care about the other people and families, who also live there.”
Jesmond has undergone a dramatic a period of intense “studentification” over recent years, with long-term residential tenants opting to move to other parts of the city.
The 2016/17 academic year has seen a particular increase in concerns expressed on social media.
Dan Perry, a Labour councillor for North Jesmond, tweeted on October 20: “Behaviour last night reached new depths – I’ve never known anything so bad in Jesmond or anywhere”.
Newcastle University and NUSU are hoping that together, they will be able to produce an efficient scheme to reduce the number of complaints by local communities.
Jack Taylor, the president of NUSU, told The Courier that the new scheme would not be “punishment-based”.
He said: “It is not the ‘Big Brother’ policy – we are just looking at ways to try and improve the relationship between the local community and students in general.
“We are looking at creative ways. We are cautious and don’t want to punish our students.
“We want to try to educate them as to their responsibilities in a community.”
Taylor added that the group would be focused on “trying to prevent students from getting into trouble”.
He suggested that an increase in anti-social behaviour was due to “the council’s cuts”, with less policing in the area.
When asked who would be involved in the new group, Taylor replied: “It is led by the University with student representation. So it’s myself leading that and working closely with the community representatives”.
The group will be running campaigns that will appear on the NUSU website.
Postlethwaite said that she had been impressed by campaigns run by NUSU in the past.
She added: “I would be really pleased to see campaigns targeted at both first years and the general student body while they are living out in the community.
“Jesmond wouldn’t be the wonderful place that it is to live in without the students who choose to live here.
“But some students each year make life very difficult for other residents and we need to see this situation improve.”
The group will meet privately with Jesmond councillors next week to discuss the ways of tackling anti-social behaviour.