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University issues stern warning to students: behave or else

By Emily Moulton

The University of Ulster has today issued a stern warning to students — be on your best behaviour or face the consequences.

A letter was sent to the thousands of new and returning undergraduates this morning reminding them that any form of anti-social behaviour — on or off campus — could result in “disciplinary action”.

Vice-chancellor Richard Barnett and Students’ Union president Adrian Kelly both issued the letter to mark the start of the new academic year and highlight the fact that the university chiefs had the power to punish students if they step out of line and tarnish its name.

Last year more than 520 students from both UU and Queen’s University Belfast were disciplined for anti-social behaviour.

Among those disciplined were third-level students who went on the rampage in the Holy Land area of Belfast on St Patrick's Day earlier this year.

Rioters set cars alight, turned bins upside down and pelted police officers with bottles.

Two officers were injured and number of vehicles were also damaged during confrontations between the drunken rioters and police.

Over the entire 2008/09 academic year, 41 University of Ulster students in the Belfast area received written warnings, 127 were issued with a verbal warning and six were fined up to £500.

Thirty-one students from the Coleraine campus and 21 in Magee were also disciplined.

In relation to the high-profile trouble on St Patrick's Day, 21 students were investigated by the UU.

One was fined £50, one received a written warning, eight were given a verbal warning and 11 cases are still ongoing.

In a bid to prevent some of the scenes which unfolded on March 17 as well as make life for residents living within the student areas more bearable, the university issued the timely warning.

The letter says that while the new academic year was “an exciting time” for students they “should be aware” that they were representatives of the University “both on and off campus”.

“It is a regrettable fact that anti-social behaviour by a small minority of our students has, in the past, tarnished the good name of the university and its student body. The most common issues reported are noise-related, including noisy parties and rowdy behaviour on streets.

“We would therefore like to remind you that the University of Ulster’s student charter states ‘that you will not behave in an anti-social manner, on or off campus and that you will behave in a responsible manner in respect of the accommodation you occupy, relations with co-habitants, neighbours and local community. Anti-social behaviour may result in disciplinary action’,” the letter says.

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