Friday, 21 November 2008

Opinion: Bournemouth's student problem...

This story makes me particularly sad. I've been a student at Bournemouth for three years now and the record has never changed, students in Bournemouth are a social menace and counter-productive to the area.

My feelings have been exasperated by a recent meeting hosted through the Winton Community Forum where over 100 residents (few were students I may add) packed into a hall to complain about the "student epidemic".

And as much as I hate to admit it, they've got a point.

I live in the student hub of Bournemouth, Winton, and the problems are plain to see. Front gardens are a mess, bins lie dormant outside homes after collection (or not collected at all), cars are parked bumper to bumper. And this is just on my road, which must be at least 70% student housing.

Things get worse at night, where parties go into the early hours, the undesirable sport of trying to fill up taxis (that can never be done quietly...) is a regular occurrence and of course there's the drunken shouting in the return from the clubs.

The issue is so bad, that families (if not already) will soon no longer wish to live here. One person I know in his 30's trying to sell his house lost his potential buyer on Stanfield Road, while fellow church goers are scared to go out into town at night because of the thriving club scene and notorious anti-social student behaviour.

Everyone in the area has an opinion on this subject, but there's a distinct danger now that there's now going to be a student witch hunt from local residents; a blanket stereotype on all who study at the Uni.

The outcome of the meeting was that the Uni, the police and the community were going to work cohesively to solve the ongoing issues.

The open welcome meeting set up by BU for December (in a bid to improve the relationship between the Uni and local residents) is certainly a good start, although I would argue that there will be a poor showing. Residents are happier to complain about the problem rather than attempt to have an open mind and try and change it, as the problem is the students living on their street, not the Uni.

What can be done is even more frustrating equation. The solution ultimately lies with us, the students. It's commonsense to take your bins in and keep your front garden tidy, its commonsense not to let off fireworks at 4am, yet its happening.

What I would say is that its not all of us who are guilty of such practice. It's wrong to just generalise students as anti-social entities with nothing to offer other than noise; we're not all bad. This isn't just a Bournemouth problem, every Uni town in the UK has this very debate, which if anything heightens the need for change to happen and fast. This town is a new University town, the residents aren't used to having so many students on their doorstep and their behaviour to boot. But why should they have to put up with it?

If students don't change (and I'm sad to say that I feel they won't) then original residents who moved here will be alienated forever, and believe me, as uncompassionate and dis-respectful as we may appear, no student would want that to happen.