Colleges warn students about alcohol-fuelled misconduct

By Tania Chakraborti 

Durham University students have come under scrutiny following a series of alcohol-related misconducts.

In the past two weeks, students across a range of Durham colleges have received warnings from senior members of College staff regarding lewd and inappropriate behaviour on various societies’ socials across the University.

This has prompted the University to urge College staff across campus to send out college-wide e-mails outlining the severity of misconduct during socials.

In an e-mail sent to University College on 14th November, Vice-Master Richard Lawrie said to students: “I think it’s worth flagging-up that the police are getting increasingly concerned over reports of student misbehaviour in town. Whilst the vast majority of these reports have not been linked to Castle, I should like to let all of you know that the Police have told the University that they are going to start taking a stricter line with students.

“Packs of students using offensive language, wearing inappropriate fancy dress, acts of nakedness or lewd behaviour as well as unacceptable house parties will be dealt with more robustly going forward.”

Students are warned in the e-mail: “Please don’t let yourself be caught up in any of this.

“It can be easy to forget that Durham is a small place and that the students are actually in the minority in the community, but nobody wants to be the person who ends up with a criminal record or thrown out of University for something that they thought was just a bit of harmless fun.”

Similarly, Assistant-Principal of Collingwood College Grant Slater wrote to students warning “of the consequences that having a Police record can have on future employment and other opportunities.

“Offences of a sexual nature and that includes stripping and exposure of any kind, could also result in being registered on the sex offenders list. You really do not want this to happen I can assure you.

“The University’s disciplinary regulations also allow for expulsion for any incidents which can be classed as ‘major’ offences. Any behaviour that is deemed illegal, is a major offence.

“The majority of these incidents of course have alcohol as a driving factor. You must understand that this will not be seen as mitigation – quite the opposite, it will be seen as an aggravating factor that you are responsible for alone.”

Vice Principal of St Hild and St Bede, Laura Todd sent out a similar e-mail that same week, stating: “Ultimately as members of a community we are all responsible, to some extent, for what is done in our name-it is up to the majority to make clear to the minority what is and what is not acceptable.”

This identical e-mail format sent by college staff across the University is believed to have been prompted by the multiple transgressions made by students within the last month, such as Castle AFC’s notable misconduct of late October, which saw the entire 35 members of the club banned from all inter-collegiate competition for the rest of the academic year.

An ongoing investigation is also taking place into Durham University Ski and Snowboard Club’s (DUSCC) recent social, which has seen the University directly involved in proceedings.

President of DUSCC told Palatinate: “Unfortunately it would be inappropriate for me to divulge any details concerning the incident as the investigation has not yet reached its full conclusion.

“All I can offer is that all members involved, and indeed the entire club, recognise the change of culture that is happening, and can only apologise for any offence caused.”

Photograph: Sophie Gregory

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