Halifax college suffered serious vandalism after visitors to the University caused considerable damage to buildings and trees on the night of November 14.
The guests, who were staying with a friend in Halifax, uprooted several trees, knocked tiles off roofs and threw bottles and cans, resulting in at least one smashed bedroom window.
Five male guests staying in Halifax College’s St Lawrence Court caused the damage. Witnesses described them as seeming “drunk and rowdy” from early in the evening, although it wasn’t until late at night that the majority of the damage is suspected to have occurred. Residents of the court witnessed the men throwing bottles and cans, causing damage to the roofs of several houses and smashing a girl’s private bedroom window from the house that they were staying in.
The following morning it was discovered that trees throughout the college had been pulled out of the ground and thrown around. The trees had been ripped out of the ground, along with the posts that hold many of them up, and dragged across the college; many were left outside kitchen doors or across pathways. It is believed that, in total, five trees were removed.
Karen Fritz, Halifax Provost, expressed disappointment that “a few visiting students have chosen to behave in a destructive manner, uprooting trees and causing some structural damage on the college grounds and in West Moor Lane”. Fritz believed the vandalism to be out of character for Halifax, where “students generally behave in an amenable way”.
Halifax College Chair, David Sharp, described the incident as “an act of childish vandalism.” He believes that although the vandals were not university students “the person who they had come to visit is ultimately responsible and should take full responsibility.” Sharp said the HCSA has “identified the culprit, and the Halifax Provost is now speaking to them.” He added: “Although the damage that has been caused has not affected the running of Halifax in general… it does make it an unsightly place to live.” It has been decided that no further action is to be taken, as it is hoped that the student now realises the seriousness of the situation.
According to YUSU Societies and Communications Officer, Rory Shanks, YUSU were “disappointed” to hear about the events in Halifax, particularly as “students at York generally take huge pride in their college environment.” Shanks went on to say: “It appears that those involved are now in conversation with the Provost, and we would implore that they try and make good some of the damage they’ve done as soon as possible.”
Fritz added: “We are aware that at Halifax College we are ambassadors to the adjacent non-university communities and we make an effort to engender neighbourly conduct.” She hopes that in the future Halifax residents and their guests will remember that “our community relations and our own college reputation are important.”
A housemate of the vandal, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated: “Whilst it was a stupid thing to do, I believe that the individual realises this and is remorseful. He was definitely not intentionally trying to cause vandalism to Halifax, it was more a whim that got out of hand when six drunken boys were hyperactive.”
The student responsible for the vandals asked Nouse to express his “sincere apologies to all those affected by the incident.” He wished it to be known that he takes “full responsibility for the actions of [his] friends” and that he will “endeavour to do what he can to make it right.” The student stressed that he would particularly like to “apologise to all students and staff affected by the circumstance.”
Many members of St Lawrence Court believe that the situation should never have happened. One St Lawrence Court resident commented, “The situation has become ridiculous. We’re not 16 anymore, the noise and mayhem is constant and no one is laughing anymore. Some people need to grow up.”
The incident was the first significant piece of vandalism on the University Campus since the suspected arson attacks on Derwent last May when a fire in Derwent last year engulfed the storage blocks causing explosions and a cloud of potentially harmful asbestos fumes to spread across the college. Security still attribute the attack to a gang of youths caught riding away from the scene on University CCTV cameras.
The Derwent college arson was the first attack since the Fairfax arson in March 2006.