Angry reactions to anti-student mood in Jesmond

Common Ground debate. Photograph: Siobhan Newmarch

Younger people have reacted with anger to what they perceived as an anti-student mood at JesmondLocal’s ‘Common Ground’ event.

The Jesmond debate, which some students found “hostile”, took place at the Royal Grammar School on January 24th and centred on the behaviour of students in the area.

During the debate, the panel and public considered a range of options to improve the current situation, which included increased funding from universities and more support from permanent residents for students moving to live in Jesmond.

The event revealed the mounting anger among permanent residents at students after the first semester saw as many as 505 witnessed events of anti-social behaviour.

Throughout the debate, the audience shared their experiences of living with students and called for toughened sanctions. JesmondLocal revealed this week that 722 fines have been handed out by Newcastle University for anti-social behaviour since 2014.

Fiona Cunningham, a history and sociology student, said: “To be honest, the environment got so hostile I don’t think many students who were there would want to talk about it anymore.

“Every time a student talked the residents were bristling, interrupting them, muttering stuff under their breath. It was pretty disrespectful for a bunch of people wanting to complain about feeling disrespected.”

Cunningham said that the audience failed to realise that students “benefit just as much from clean streets” and “sense of community”.

Asked if the debate affected her, Cunningham said: “I won’t be changing my behaviour, but I wasn’t binge drinking and yelling at people to begin with. It’s absolutely a minority of students.”

Mark Sleightholm, a former Newcastle University student, said that “the non-students were pretty hostile towards the few students who dared to speak”, pointing to laughter in the audience at the suggestion “that they should make more of an effort to improve relations”.

“The only rude and inconsiderate people at the meeting were the non-student residents,” he said.

Sleightholm said that “students were being used as a scapegoat for all the mess and anti-social behaviour in Jesmond”, which he dismissed as “ridiculous”.

I think it was a shame that the discussion didn’t turn to landlords, who are ultimately responsible for bringing so many students into Jesmond.”

Stella Postlethwaite, Labour councillor for North Jesmond, said she did not feel the debate was anti-student: “We weren’t talking about all students and we weren’t talking about every aspect of what they bring to Jesmond. There are certainly really positive things we could say about students living in Jesmond.

“A lot of comments might have been difficult for students who’ve never witnessed that behaviour themselves sitting in the audience and don’t necessarily relate to that and, maybe, feel like we were talking about them – that wasn’t what was happening.”

Arlene Ainsley, Labour councillor for South Jesmond, said: “What was not brought up so much was the positive impact of students.

“Having said that, there is a very small minority of students who do make life an absolute misery for residents, which is not acceptable at all.”

7 thoughts on “Angry reactions to anti-student mood in Jesmond”

  1. PB says:

    Of course their is an anti-student mood – our lives are being made a living hell. It was never going to be a love-in.
    We understand that it is a minority of students that cause the problems and most choose to reside in Jesmond whilst at uni for the same reason we chose to buy property there – it’s a beautiful place to live and they want to make use of what Jesmond has to offer. Unfortunately the actions of the minority overshadow the rest.
    I wasn’t at the meeting so I don’t know how people behaved. I can understand permanent residents being dismissive – it’s hard not to when you have met the brick-wall of a drunken disruptive student at 2am several times. Tarring all students with the same brush is difficult to avoid when you’re at the point of exasperation. However, it’s hardly helpful. The problem with this meeting, I’d imagine, is that the students who attended were law abiding, considerate types. The disruptive handful that cause the issues are not going to attend such a meeting. They simply couldn’t care less.
    I have to agree thoroughly with Sleightholm – the greedy landlords are ultimately responsible. Buying upper Tyneside Flats that we’re designed for a small family and converting them on the cheap for 6 independent adults without regard for neighbours is simply wholly inconsiderate. Furthermore, the council should have thought much more carefully before granting such a ludicrous number of HMO licenses in such concentration in properties that are not fit for that purpose.

  2. PB says:

    iPhone autocorrect and the Metro don’t mix. Apologies for terrible there, theirs, were and we’re!

  3. Moira Conway says:

    Of course the landlords are at the bottom of the problem, charging high fees, to let inadequate properties to students and other tenants. Hopefully Counciller as will be able to make provision to protect student and others from overcrowding, the reason there are so many landlords in Jesmond is because they make good money. The council provide the services for students but the landlords don’t pay community charge how about the owner being responsible for the rates on the house! Just a thought!

  4. TP says:

    Many residents highlighted that the issues raised were not down to those students present at the debate. Indeed at the end of the debate I highlighted to the student on my left that she should not feel responsible for her peers’ behaviour in the same way I’m not responsible for some of the opinions stated. However, all parties want to put the onus “to do something” in the residents rather than the students. We’re all adults and let’s all accordingly.

  5. SD says:

    I was up until 4:30am this morning because of the students above. The police have been out previously, the university notified etc. No point complaining as nothing ever happens. After asking them to quiet down on a previous occasion I was threatened with violence on my own doorstep. Not a pleasant experience.

  6. Ronnie says:

    The snowflake generation.

    This meeting was organised to address the issues, some of which are horrible for the people who live in Jesmond. Yet a few individuals have turned it into how sad the meeting made them feel.

    722 fines by Newcastle University alone speaks volumes about the problems. It is time to give residents the ability to complain directly to the University.

  7. Notingham Resident says:

    This is a nationwide problem – but it sounds like you have at least got a police response. I live in Nottingham and we have had to complain heavily to the police and crime commissioner just to get any form of response. Members of our community are ignored and have even been cautioned by police for challenging the behaviour of students in the area. Street drinking is endemic and despite having a DPPO in the area the police seem to do little to enforce it.

    When local residents call for assistance we are made to feel that it is our fault for “living in a student area” we are starting to think that the university is working with the police in this area on a deliberate policy to drive local residents out. If we complain about people urinating, throwing glass bottles around the place and screaming on the street until 5am – we too are told that we are anti-student. Oh and Nottingham University has a campus based behaviour policy and rarely ever fine anyone of campus.

    Jesmond …… You are not alone

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