Oxford residents object to “Studentification”

first_imgResidents are calling on Brookes to reduce the number of students living in privately owned properties and to build new facilities further outside of the city centre. Some suggest Brookes should employ night-time wardens in order to control anti-social behaviour and discourage students from bringing cars to Oxford.Cllr Williams argues the Universities should “help disperse the student population more evenly across the City” and urges students and locals alike to “work together to avoid a Town and Gown divide.”The residents’ meeting followed the rejection of Brooks’ plans to expand and modernise their Gipsy Lane Campus.The scheme was halted when Oxford City councillors voted 20 – 13 against the £150 million redevelopment of the site, despite planning officers giving the scheme the go-ahead for approval. The rejection was a surprise victory for local residents.Mills said the expansion plans went against the “interests of the local community” and added that Brookes has been “riding roughshod over concerns of local residents for years.”Cllr Williams, himself a graduate of Brookes University, was pleased the redevelopment was thrown out, claiming the new building would have been “massive and overbearing”. He said Brookes needs a building “that has a ‘wow’ factor, something to be proud of. Architecture speaks volumes about what goes on inside…what is needed is something that says…This is a first class world renowned University.”Brookes were disappointed that the plans fell through. Paul Large, Acting Registrar of Oxford Brookes University, said Brookes had “listened to residents’ complaints carefully” since planning began in 2005 and that following the decision made by city councillors, Brookes would now consider its “next course of action.” Oxford Brookes is trying to replace old buildings from the 50s and 60s and consider it “very important that our facilities match our reputation as a leading university.” Eorann Lean, OUSU VP for Charities and Community, said, “The solution to ‘studentification’ is to not think of it like that. It’s important that students are integrated into the community and treated as residents of Oxford, with the same responsibilities to put their bins out on time and warn neighbours about parties beforehand rather than a separate group… There are some bad neighbours that happen to be students, but there are also bad neighbours who aren’t.” She added, “The most effective way of improving relations is simply to get to know your neighbours.”Oxford students living in the local community are often detached from the local life around them. One Oxford student living in the Cowley area admitted, “We don’t know our neighbours and have nothing to do with the local community.” However, some students volunteer for local schools and charities, such as Jacari.Jake Leeper, a student living in Jericho, said, “I think it’s a shame that it’s often only the bad aspects of student behaviour that get recognised. There are already hundreds of students who volunteer in Oxford and who realise that they’re not just University students but are part of an Oxford community instead. Their volunteering helps to create a positive view of Oxford students and I think that it’s important that community volunteering continues to grow so that Oxford’s residents can see that students care about the city that they live in.”Many residents consider student exploitation by landlords a contributing factor to making areas of Oxford appear run-down. Councillor David Williams claims some property owners are “only interested in packing in as many as possible and doing as few repairs as they must.”Most of the residents’ complaints were directed towards Brookes students. There are fewer Oxford students living in rented accommodation in the area and many Oxford students living out are housed in accommodation owned by colleges, meaning local residents have a point of contact in case of disturbances. Oxford residents gathered last week to call for a halt to the rise of “student ghettos” in the city.Several residents’ associations from across Oxford met at All Saints Church in Headington, where together they called on the Universities, the city and county councils and Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust to join together to fight the problem of “studentification”.Residents complained that students are noisy, host loud parties, throw up on the street and even occasionally have sex on the bonnets of cars. Stephanie Jenkins of the Central North Headington Residents’ Association claims the late night noise caused by students “destroys people’s sanity”.Students were further criticised for failing to maintain cleanliness of their surroundings. Jenkins said, “The heaps of student rubbish everywhere are the one thing that depresses everyone, even if they don’t live near students.” Parking also poses a serious problem to residents as students park on residential streets and fail to move their cars for weeks on end.Elizabeth Mills, chairman elect of the Divinity Road Area Residents’ Association, said many long-term residents in East Oxford feel they are living in “studentified ghettos”, where they are a small minority. Mills claims only eight houses on Divinity Road are occupied by full-term residents.In response to residents’ complaints about “studentification”, Dr Anne Gwinnett, Director of Corporate Affairs at Oxford Brookes University, who also chairs residents’ meetings held in the Headington area said, “Oxford Brookes is aware that some residents have a number of concerns linked to the impact of students in the community and is keen to work with those residents to clarify issues.” She said Brookes wants to “ensure our students make a positive contribution to their communities.” Oxford City Council and Oxford University have not taken the opportunity to comment.last_img read more