At which point do the universities cease to have responsibility for their students? For one thing, plenty of the 'revellers' on March 17 were not students, albeit they were invited by people who lived there. This event has been so hyped-up that there is a very real danger of St Pat's day being a badge of (dis)honour, seen as some kind of special occasion for a riot. As these people are of adult age, they can (and should) be prosecuted for any public order offences in the way I would be. This might mean a fine and/or jail term. I don't see that the universities are responsible. The punishments handed out should not change depending on whether or not you are a student.
Any student clearly identified as being a rioter that day - i.e. seen throwing a missile (brick, stone or bottle) should have been summarily expelled from their university. It's got nothing to do with class, whether you're from the town or country or what religion you are. It's down to providing the opportunity of a good education for young people and expecting them to act responsibly in return. It's a privilege to attend university, not an excuse to party for three or four years. Maybe the current economic climate will encourage them to study more and party less. If not, then they shouldn't be there in the first place.
The university didn't expel them as then they would lose out on the fees for the student which is about £3,225 a year. That's the fact that they don't want to admit...
As an impartial observer on March 17, I noted there was very little coverage on how a lot of local residents (non-students) from the area joined in the riotous behaviour and, in my opinion, spurred a lot of it on. I do believe students get a lot of negative Press - rightly or wrongly. However, my concern is more with student safety in the Holy Land area. I have dealt with increasing (unprovoked) attacks on students and their property. I would much prefer to see universities putting their time and effort into promoting the safety of their students.
I thought that we had a police force to investigate crimes and to reduce anti-social behaviour, must be my mistake. Is the university now looking after all criminal investigations in NI, or do we still phone the police? If people are causing anti-social behaviour and/or committing crimes, they should be arrested and prosecuted. Can it really be that difficult?
Universities seem increasingly willing to take just about anyone through their doors and enrol them in what might be called less challenging courses. And guess what! Fail your exams because you have not attended lectures and done no work through endless partying, not a problem! Just hand over the money and you can repeat your exams, again and again!
T J McClean