University Statement: Anti-Social Behaviour
I hope you are looking forward to the academic year ahead. The University has been working hard to ensure that we can provide you with an authentic campus experience, whilst keeping you safe. I recognise that the vast majority of students appreciate that they, as with all members of society, have a personal responsibility to act in accordance with COVID 19 guidelines. We understand that the last six months have been very challenging and are proud of the way that the majority of you have responded to these challenges, with integrity and respect for others.
However, in recent days it has become apparent that a minority of students are not playing their part in terms of their off-campus behaviour. Many of you will have seen the media reports on this issue. Queen’s must ensure a highly responsible approach to the ongoing public health crisis and it is important that I provide clarity on the potential consequences for students if the rules are not followed.
I would like to remind you of our Campus Community Pledge which emphasises the requirement of all students to follow public health advice and treat their local community with respect. The University also has in place a Student Charter which applies to all students and sets out expectations for your behaviour both on and off campus. Breaches of either of these codes can lead to penalties under the Student Conduct Regulations. If you haven’t already, you should also familiarise yourself with the restrictions that have recently been introduced by the NI Executive for those living in the Belfast City Council Area.
The University works closely with the PSNI, Belfast City Council and other statutory bodies and will investigate every complaint we receive regarding the conduct of our students. If you are found to be in breach of the Student Charter or the Campus Community Pledge then appropriate disciplinary measures will be applied. Furthermore, in the current circumstances, breaches of public health guidance put your safety and that of your families and neighbours at risk. Students who disregard public health guidelines and host, or attend, large gatherings are not only risking their own health, and that of friends and family, but also face the possibility of substantial penalties.
Given this context, we are required to take a rigorous and stringent approach to the application of disciplinary measures and these include significant fines, suspension from your course and potential expulsion from the University. If the University receives notification of a COVID breach from the PSNI, students will be suspended with immediate effect for 14 days. For students in professional subjects such as Medicine and Nursing, it is also important to understand that such breaches may trigger fitness to practice procedures for their future profession. This emphasises the importance of a responsible approach, which is in your best interests, both now and in the future.
This communication has been issued in the context of recent behaviour off campus, but I would highlight that the message applies equally to those of you who will be moving into University accommodation in the coming days.
Studying at Queen’s and living in Belfast is a great place to be a student and we want you to get the most out of your experience. This will only be possible if you play your part, act responsibly and keep yourself and your friends, colleagues and neighbours safe.
With best wishes for the forthcoming academic year
Professor Ian Greer
President and Vice-Chancellor
Queen’s University Belfast