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6th February 2015

Student Homes video targets house party ‘chaos’

The video, produced by Manchester Metropolitan University, follows a fictional Fallowfield party that gets out of hand

Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester Student Homes have produced a joint film pressuring students to cut down on loud house parties in Fallowfield, after complaints from residents in the student hub.

The video, titled ‘Student House Parties: The Impact’, was produced by members of the Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union, in association with the Alcohol Impact project by the NUS and the Home Office. It was written and performed by students and residents of the area.

It follows a student house party that gets out of control, keeping older neighbours awake and ending in the police being called after a reveller gets bottled. It also shows an opportunist thief explaining how easy it is to rob houses during parties.

The host decides to allow anyone to come in the house, and a group of girls discuss how they have a few drinks before setting out. The implication is that these are the main reasons for the resulting disaster.

A police officer, speaking in the video, explains that “one in three victims of crime, theft, and burglary will be students.”

The video aims to get students to care for themselves and the community, by highlighting what can go wrong at a house party.

In November, headlines were made after south Manchester residents described the area as “chaos,” according to the Manchester Evening News, with residents of Amherst Road filming a particularly busy party on Halloween that lasted until 6am.

Residents also claimed to be disrupted by the comings and goings of students to Fallowfield’s bars, “shouting and screaming in the street and even going to the toilet in people’s gardens.”

Police then requested extra funding from the University of Manchester and city council for extra patrols to crack down on this sort of behaviour in Fallowfield.

The University of Manchester has taken action on the alleged anti-social conduct of its students, introducing powers to carry out off-campus discipline in September. Students seen to be ‘damaging the university’s reputation’ may now have action carried out against them.

Students have recalled stories of university staff visiting their homes and explaining the consequences of any behaviour deemed anti-social.

In response to the proposal in June, the Students’ Union Executive Team started a petition against this decision, which gained almost 2000 signatures. They described the policy as “based on the premise that students are separate from the ‘community’, a divisive narrative that does not recognise students as residents of… their local community.”

Liberal Democrat MP for Withington, John Leech, raised the issue of rowdy parties in the House of Commons, advocating a 24-hour hotline to swiftly deal with complaints against students who cause disruption in the local area.

Leech blames the worsening problem on cheap supermarket alcohol and 24-hour licencing regulations, and recommends the council funnel more resources to dealing with the behaviour of students.

He has praised the video as “a really good way of getting the message through that there are student safety, crime and anti-social behaviour issues connected with student parties.”

Charlie Cook, General Secretary of the University of Manchester Students’ Union, said the video “adopts the same narrative as the new off-campus discipline policy introduced, distinguishing students as separate to the wider community, as well as conflating the issues of their victimisation with their own culpability.

“We call for a more positive and reflective narrative of students’ contribution to their neighbourhoods. At this Union we facilitate a wide range of student-led initiatives around community involvement, and think a proactive approach to encouraging this kind of engagement would be a more sustainable solution.

“In relation to the risks of crime, it is unreasonable to expect an abstention from drinking or to stop having parties.

“Reminding students to lock their doors when they go out and know whose invited to their home is a more reasonable approach to raising awareness, although it is equally important to highlight [that] the vast majority of students already do this.

“The Students’ Union also run a number of initiatives through the Union such as the Safe Taxi Scheme and the Safe Zones along Oxford Road to support students who may feel vulnerable.”

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