I see the circus that is the "Holy lands" is about to begin yet again. QUB Pro Vice-Chancellor, Gerry McCormac has appealed to new and returning students to "show respect" and allow their neighbours to live in peace.
I agree of course but wish to look at this issue a little closer as it is a very important issue for me.
"A small minority of students are involved in anti-social behaviour, but their action tarnishes the reputation of the whole student body,"
Gerry is of course right but if we ever plan to tackle the Holy lands issue we need more than statements. At the end of last year, Queen's announced a new disciplinary code for off-campus behaviour, which would be used against offending students. This new disciplinary code is a joke!
I often wondered why, with perhaps the best Law school in the country, Queens never seem to get their act together with regards to keeping their bases covered. This draconian measure, if challenged by Judicial Review would undoubtedly fall. Queens seem to have acted Ultra Vires on this issue and the code is so uncertain that it is not a viable option. I could be expelled for having a fight in Tokyo.
Queens students should and possibly are only accountable to QUB when on QUB property. I am worried than in an effort to save face Queens may have lost sight of the objective, finding a solution to this problem.
In the Holy lands there is no sense of community. When you ask a student there where they live they tell you Armagh, Tyrone, Newry but never Belfast even though they live their most of the time. For most young people it is the first time away from Mammy and Daddy and it's like the fabric of community responsibility just lifts as soon as they walk on University Road. We need to make students feel like this is their community as the perception amongst some students is that the Holy lands is Party lands. Last year I advocated a far reaching education programme that would see the Union talk to 6th formers and try and convey to them the reality of the situation, it didn't happen. That said the new President has some very good ideas and I know this is one of his priorities.
We need to make the new generations of students realise that respect is a two way street, if you don't give you don't get.
One final point is that the media seem to have fixed this issue at the door of QUB students, let’s not forget our UU comrades as well.
That said, pass the Bulmers!!