The recent rise in incidents involving anti-social behaviour in the students’ common area at DIT Bolton and Kevin Street has come to the attention of DITSU news, and our correspondent set out to conduct an inquiry into the events, their causes and how they can be prevented from reoccurring. The media arm of the DIT Students’ Union conducted interviews across students and staff who had knowledge about the incidents, seeking to unravel the rise in the number of recorded incidents and how to tackle the menace of anti-social behaviour within student areas.
When speaking with Mehmet Ali Aydin, the Bolton Street College officer, he thought that spike in the incidents was because some students were not duly informed of the need to have a quiet space within the college.
The official further stated that the absence of ping-pong tables and other sporting or gaming facilities within the college might have led to students feeling bored, but he reassured that steps were being taken to provide more board games and have more events to engage more students. Stressing that the levels of anti-social behaviour were at its highest over recent years, he requested students to exercise patience while the union and building managers put in more recreational tools in the common areas.
The union is planning an event at Bolton street to allow students give feedback to the union about how the common areas could be put to better use to suit their needs, and how the spaces within the DIT can be utilised optimally without conflict between students.
Ali assured students that they should feel safe to use the common areas, noting that the union was doing its best to ensure that the common area is safe, accessible and comfortable for use by all students of the DIT.
I also caught up with Dean Murray, the college officer of DIT Kevin Street, who expressed discontent about the rise in anti-social behaviour within the common areas in the college. He expressed shock at the incidents of alcohol consumption, indecent conduct and abuse of DIT staff by some students. Speaking further on this, he stated that “..I do not think that most people do not know that what they have can be taken away from them.” Murray was quick to state that most students do not realise that the student spaces belong to the DIT and they have control over it and can take drastic action if needed.
He, however, noted that the students involved in anti-social behaviour were a minuscule part of the entire student population, and students who use the spaces legitimately should stand up to those who abuse the space and let them know they cannot misuse the privilege of access to common areas. DITSU is also working on some poster and social media campaigns about respect for common spaces in conjunction with the SOCS team. Murray said
This is every students’ area. It is your common area; don’t let anyone take that away from you.
DITSU news crew also spoke with few students of the DIT who use the common areas frequently, about their thoughts on the recent happenings and rise in anti-social behavior-related incidents. A male student at DIT Bolton Street suggested that the removal of the ping-pong tables left the students with not much activity to do. Hence, they resort to anti-social behaviour to “let off steam”. Another female student within the same college stressed that although she witnessed the anti-social behaviour, she still felt safe using the common areas and was confident that it had not in any way impacted her frequency of visit to the areas.
Furthermore, a group of students highlighted that witnessing anti-social behaviour go unpunished may encourage students to feel that such behaviour is accepted within the college. In their opinion, since one incident has been met with no stiff measure, other students may be inclined to repeat same. While speaking with students at the DIT Kevin Street, some students expressed their shock at the rise in anti-social behaviour within the college, yet they requested for clarification as to what is allowed in the student common areas and what is not. A female student stated that an information sheet showing what is allowed within the area and what is not would go a long way in helping students decipher what can be termed “acceptable behaviour” in the common areas. She requested for a more specific outline of things that can be done within the common student areas, and possibly a list of what is forbidden, as a notice to all students.
Lastly, I spoke to Colm Gillen, DIT Kevin Street Buildings Manager to get some feedback from DITs perspective. The manager expressed his displeasure at the rise in anti-social behaviour within the Kevin Street campus, citing reported incidents involving drinking and sexual indecency even in classrooms. He reinstated DIT’s commitment to providing a conducive campus to students but pleaded for co-operation on the part of the students. He said
‘Students should endeavour to always carry their student cards, and provide it when requested. It allows us to be sure of who is going in and out of the building, and to curb anti-social behaviour.’
Encouraging students to show respect for others within common areas, he advocated for more involvement in sporting activities and games as an alternative to anti-social behaviour. Warning that the building management team may have to enforce stricter methods in preventing further occurrence of such behaviour within the school premises, he assured law-abiding students of their freedom to go about their normal duties without fear or intimidation. Also, he called for students within the college to respect others, and consider other students in their conduct within the school grounds. While the DITSU continues work on a school-wide campaign about respect for public spaces and common areas, it is anticipated that current measures implemented will lead to a decline and possible cessation in anti-social behaviour within the affected campuses.
Warning that the building management team may have to enforce stricter methods in preventing further occurrence of such behaviour within the school premises, he assured law-abiding students of their freedom to go about their normal duties without fear or intimidation. Also, he called for students within the college to respect others, and consider other students in their conduct within the school grounds. While the DITSU continues work on a school-wide campaign about respect for public spaces and common areas, it is anticipated that current measures implemented will lead to a decline and possible cessation in anti-social behaviour within the affected campuses.
Kieron Pierson, speaking on behalf of DIT Students’ Union said ‘The recent anti-social behaviour in some of our campuses is totally unacceptable from DITSU’s point of view. These common areas are shared spaces for all students to relax, unwind and interact with each other. It should never be the case that students will avoid these areas for fear of intimidating and dangerous behaviour. We ask that students continue to respect these areas as they are there for everyone to use and to feel safe while they are there’.