The media frenzy continues.
Katheryn Jermyn hall (KJ) is on an 11 day alcohol ban, which could become indefinite, following numerous complaints about noise from its ‘rowdy’ first year residents.
Vice Chancellor Grant Guilford informed residents of the ban via the KJ Facebook page.
Guildford’s post read: “I have instructed the management of KJ Hall to impose a complete alcohol ban on the Hall until Monday 28th March. If I am not satisfied that residents of the hall (or their visitors) are behaving respectfully to neighbours, the alcohol ban will not be lifted. Any further allegations of the type already received this week will be treated seriously and may result in proceedings being brought under the Student Conduct Statute.”
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Like most halls of residence, KJ sets its quiet hours at 10.00pm. After this time, students drinking alcohol have to leave the building. Problems have arisen when students have reportedly been loitering outside in the street instead of going to town.
Joan Stevens residents have apparently been walking past KJ, heckling the hall in a manner that some neighbours have said “surpassess mere banter.”
A Joan Stevens resident who wished to remain anonymous (who will herein be referred to as Snitch), said he’d only heard a solid group “fuck KJ” chant occurring on the street once, with the occasional “fuck Joan Stevens.” Snitch added, “it doesn’t actually happen that much now after O-Week anyway.”
The events at KJ come off the back of several weeks of bad press, with certain media outlets labelling Victoria as “the new Otago.”
VUWSA President Jonathan Gee is concerned about the effect this could have on student’s reputations, telling Salient, “concern around the university’s reputation should not govern the solutions to the behaviour.”
“Punitive measures such as alcohol bans are a quick fix and don’t address the root of the problem. It’s about evidence-based approaches such as restorative justice techniques and fostering a sense of community from the outset.”
Gee said the discourse surrounding the hall was “a complete misrepresentation of the vast majority at KJH who conduct themselves responsibly.” He added, “anyone coming to Wellington instead of Dunedin is coming precisely because they want a different student experience.”
KJ resident Jack Jones argued, “it’s our location, the fact that we’re new, and the press that we’ve had in the past that has caused all this backlash from the media. They’re just using us as the scapegoat for the rest of the people of Victoria’s drinking.”
“People come into town because that’s where they go to drink. It’s not just us. You can’t base the problems on us because of our location.”
“There’s more noise from motorbikers and people in fast cars going past than from people chanting. That is straight true.”
Replies to Guildford’s post carried a similar sentiment, with one reading, “is there even a chance for us to discuss with Grant Guilford the exact reasons why this ban has been put in place? Or is all we get a message through Facebook?”
When asked about the allegations being taken so seriously by the university, one KJ student said, “I think they should come to the hall and have a look what’s going on. I don’t think they’ll find too much wrong.”
As reported in Salient on March 6, Weir House also found themselves on the receiving end of the university’s wrath.
A Kelburn Parade resident spoke of their encounters with Te Puni Village first years, telling Salient they’d “found people passed out in togas in our garden needing medical care.” Drunk first years had also tried to steal their cat!
Attempted cat theft aside, the resident added, “most of the time the first years are lovely, no dramas. Maybe the odd loud night from the halls, but nothing unreasonable.”
Many students and neighbourhood residents have argued the level of rowdiness is acceptable, exaggerated by media, and to be expected in inner-city areas around university halls.
Hazardous drinking is on the decline amongst young people, according to the 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey, published in 2015. The rate of hazardous drinking among drinkers aged 18 to 24 years dropped from 49% in 2006/07, to 36% in 2011/12.
Students who are concerned about their drinking and want to make changes can get advice at likeadrink.org.nz. The Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797) provides free and confidential support for anyone concerned about their own or another person’s alcohol or drug use. The helpline is open from 10.00am–10.00pm, every day.