Evacuation will not solve the tensions between students and locals.
With the prospective expansion of our campus to Heslington East and our intake of 2008 freshers almost doubling last year’s, it seems illogical for the local council to restrict areas of student housing. Badger Hill – one of the closest havens to campus and hence amid the most popular of areas – recently issued its petition against student ‘flooding’.
Residents of Heslington and Fulford have also pressured the council to give priority to locals in what has been termed a ‘Local Development Framework’. Furthermore, we are not the only students in York; the council governed curb of student residential areas would mean York St John, the College of Law and York College would all also be affected.
Being in a small historic city means that we are already under a certain amount of residential strain, particularly when compared to Universities in big cities such as Manchester. Being in the first year, we had to cajole our group of housemates together as early as the first term and continue to scavenge for something suitable that doesn’t resemble a pimp shack or a leaking barn with no central heating. This does not mean to say that student accommodation in the city of York is appalling. It is, on the whole, very reasonable in price and quality, just that it is already relatively limited in quantity. Every fresher is in the same situation here, whilst friends at other universities don’t give a second thought to the issue until the summer.
The business of looking for a house in the second year brings fresh excitement, but also a range of frustrations and stress. Will a flux in available housing force us into an even greater flurry as we fight tooth and nail for decent housing which isn’t miles from campus? Any drastic change may also mean unnecessary pressure on the University to accommodate second and third years on campus.
I admit that, on the whole, students aren’t a very popular bunch. Memories of the Gallery DJ pausing in-between tracks to call those listening a load of “tax-dodging bastards” – only to insist that he meant it in jest – springs to mind. Yes, we can be noisy on occasion; yes, some of us tend to show ignorance of local community, choosing instead to immerse ourselves in the duck-filled concrete ‘bubble’ that governs our lives; and yes, Mr. Gallery-DJ, you’re right in that we don’t pay taxes… just yet. But these are generalisations. There are as many of us that are polite and unobtrusive as there are otherwise and we too will eventually become tax-paying members of the public.
It is public displays of pettiness such as the Badger Hill petition that aggravates me to start a government appeal of my own in an attempt to curtail the stereotype of ourselves harboured by the prejudiced. Local councillor Ceredig Jamieson-Ball is an ex-York University student himself and though it is his duty to react to complaints of the local population, surely the answer here is not to evacuate students from crucially needed campus suburbs but to tackle the roots of the problems themselves? I urge York City Council to think about their decision and I cannot stress enough our right to maintain our residence in ‘student’ areas.