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I am writing to you today given a persistent series of issues…
Since the start of this academic year how many times has the Vice Chancellor, Andy Schofield professed that his “priority is the welfare of our students at this difficult time.”
Yet since the beginning of this academic year it seems as though weekly; I am battling some faceless section of the university management for help with regards to my own welfare.
Not long after moving back to university for my final year of studies in an already bizarre year, I began having issues with someone who will remain anonymous. I, and other students faced with Bowland College and the Deanery Team on regular occasions to discuss the issues. These ongoing issues went through the due process of investigation by the Deanery. Yet despite numerous complaints from various sources their outcome was that there was ‘no evidence’ to substantiate my claims regarding the offending person, proving the failure of University staff in ensuring the wellbeing of students.
The ongoing issues include noise disturbances in the early hours, breaches of Covid-19 regulations and drug use on university premises that the College and the Deanery have failed to adequately address or take any proper disciplinary action towards.
It states explicitly in the University Student Handbook which all students are given upon coming to university that the above behaviours are not permitted, and will not be tolerated.
Not only are these offences breaches of university policy, but they are also breaches of the Universities UK Code of Practice – a Code which Lancaster University have signed up to follow.
The issues had been consistently disturbing from late October to early April and had taken a significant toll on my health – both mental and physical. During these months I was frequently going without sleep or little sleep and yet still having to carry on with my studies, two part-time jobs and voluntary work without a decent amount of sleep. I regularly informed the College and the Deanery contacts I had originally spoken to that my health was slowly getting worse and yet I was faced with repeated bureaucratic responses.
“We are doing everything we can.”
“I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing so many difficulties.”
“Support is available to you via the College Advisory Team, Student welfare team or the Students’ Union Advice Team.”
In these months I had taken up Counselling given personal difficulties outside of this issue that had been exacerbated by these disturbances, a fact the Associate Deans were made aware of in one of our many Investigatory Meetings and yet when faced with the state of my mental health, I was met with little to no sympathy as well as no compulsion to do anything to help me.
Approaching the beginning of April, after a brief period of time, the person in question came back to university and within hours was causing disturbances. Given the failings of both Bowland College and their Deanery team to make any difference or improve my situation in anyway, I decided to take my issues to the top.
An extensive email was sent repeatedly over 3 weeks following the failure of the individuals mentioned and their PA’s to respond.
I additionally contacted our Vice Chancellor, Andy Schofield, to alert him that this article was being written and requesting a comment. I also sought commentary from him through his PA and via the Lancaster University Press Office.
I demanded immediate action taken with regards to these issues and the staff handling such complaints. These ongoing issues have taken a serious toll on my mental and physical health in an already stress-filled year. I have been through every avenue available to me to improve my situation and it appears as though staff simply do not care nor have the interest in ensuring the safety of students. The VC declined to give a comment or apparently deliver on his promise of ensuring his priority of student welfare. However, whilst Andy Schofield declined to respond to my requests for a comment, I did receive this from the University Press Office:
“The wellbeing of all our students is of upmost importance – particularly given the challenges of the last year.
The University has worked closely with community police to ensure students understand and comply fully with Covid-19 regulations and our student support teams have remained available throughout to those experiencing additional difficulty.
Although we can’t discuss the details of individual cases, in this particular situation we understand that the Student Conduct Officer has been in touch and will be investigating the complaint.”Lancaster University Press Office
At present, these issues are circulating the Student Complaints Process, with no hope in sight frankly. With regards to my situation, I took matters into my own hands and removed myself from the situation given the toll it was taking and the lack of help I received from any of the upper echelons of the university.
In a year that has been unprecedented for more reasons than one, Lancaster University, the Vice Chancellor, Bowland College, and the Deanery Team have proved that student welfare and wellbeing is far from a priority.
I got more help from my cleaner.