University Statement St Patrick's Day
The University continues to be proud of the exemplary way in which the vast majority of our students have responded to the challenges that the pandemic has posed. Although this has not been the academic year that we hoped for, we continue to be impressed by the commitment, dedication and adaptability that our students have shown to their studies.
The coronavirus pandemic has required us all to work together as a community. By adhering to the evolving restrictions we have minimised the spread of infection and protected each other. You should be proud of your role is responding to the pandemic. We know that in the vast majority of cases, Queen’s students have acted responsibly and in accordance with both the public health guidelines and Campus Community Pledge that was introduced at the start of the academic year. We recognise that this has required considerable sacrifice by many students, particularly the need to avoid social gatherings, which normally play such an important part of the university experience. We applaud the way in which our students have responded in a mature and socially responsible way.
St Patrick’s Day is an important cultural event and we fully appreciate that many students would like to spend this time with their friends. Unfortunately, as with many other milestones over the past year, official events have been cancelled and celebrations must be moderated so that they are enjoyed in accordance with the current public health restrictions. This is vital so that we can continue to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community. As with previous years, the University is working in partnership with the PSNI, Belfast City Council and other educational institutions to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support students and our neighbours to be safe over the St Patrick’s Day period.
In this context it is important to emphasise the need for all members of the Queen’s community to behave responsibly over the St Patrick’s Day period. This means that everyone should avoid unnecessary travel, stay within their households and not organise or attend social gatherings. Students who do not need to be on campus for their study are advised to stay at home and not to travel to the University area for other reasons. We always expect our students to show respect for their local communities, but this year when the risks to our student’s health and those around them is so great, we will not tolerate disregard for the public health restrictions, or anti-social behaviour and will have no option but to apply the stringent disciplinary measures already in place as necessary.
Queen’s has data-sharing agreements in place with statutory authorities and will investigate all complaints. The University will automatically suspend for a period of 14 days any student who is found to be in breach of covid guidelines and reported to the University by the police. Any students who are found to be in serious breach (for example by having organised a party) and/or have been reported on multiple occasions may have more severe sanctions imposed upon them which could have detrimental affect on their studies and career. Anyone detected by Police breaching covid regulations can expect to be fined. Anyone who continues to breach the guidelines could be arrested and reported to the public prosecution service. Students who live in University Accommodation are subject to the same public health restrictions and the University will impose sanctions in the same manner.
We would emphasise that the majority of cases of anti-social behaviour that tend to occur around St Patrick’s Day are not caused by students of Queen’s, and the University fully appreciates that the majority of students will continue to behave responsibly. However, the University has a responsibility to make the University’s position clear to all members of our community and outline the consequences of anti-social behaviour, which could put their health and that of our neighbours at risk.
Please, this St. Patrick’s Day stay at home, stay safe and save lives.