A large number of Derwent students have reacted angrily after their College Welfare team launched its ‘Nicked’ campaign.
The college’s Chair and Welfare representatives checked approximately 100 student bedrooms, and entered 45 per cent of rooms that were left unlocked, placing stickers on items to demonstrate that they could have been stolen.
The JCRC members involved did not remove students belongings and were in the room for a couple of seconds. However when the results were announced, via the scheme’s Facebook group, there was a widely critical response from students.
Francesca Knight, the Derwent JCRC Chair, along with Katy Tinman and Benjamin Clynes, the college’s Welfare reps, inspected the rooms between 5:30 and 7:30 in the evening, during Derwent’s dining hours. The initiative was an attempt to improve personal security around the college, after a YUSU survey revealed that 35 per cent of Derwent students feel unsafe.
The campaign is similar to a number of projects run by the police nationally and by other Universities and Students’ Unions. The JCRC knocked on every door, and only tried to open the door if there was no response.
Derwent’s current JCRC are pushing the University for improvements to security. Currently all requests for better lighting and CCTV cameras have been rejected by the University, on the grounds that residents do not maintain the basic security of keeping the doors to their blocks or rooms locked.
Tinman, the Wefare Representative, commented: “All Derwent students need to be aware that this was a campaign intended to promote personal safety and security within the college without raising vulnerability or compromising any of the current security measures. Myself, Cesca and Ben did not wish to upset any students – this was ultimately done to improve student welfare.”
The campaign had the full support of Derwent’s provost Rob Aitken, as well as campus security and YUSU. Students were warned by the Provost that their insurance was invalid if rooms were unlocked.
Critics of the campaign have cited the Terms and Conditions of Residence, in which University staff have to give 48 hours’ notice of any visits. In response, Derwent’s administrator, Chris Unwin commented on the Facebook group: “If we had done this, everyone would have been aware in advance of what was going on, there would have been no element of surprise.”
Francesca Knight has adamantly defended the campaign. “We found a laptop that was clearly visible in every room we went in, and also saw some keys and key cards lying around. Bearing in mind we ran in and ran out in a few seconds it is scary how quickly these things could have been taken.
It was suggested that we do something within the college to show we are doing our bit to promote personal safety and college security in order to back up our pleas to the university for more cameras in the college nucleus”.
A second-year Derwent student posted on the Facebook page: “There is stuff people keep in their room that they don’t want others to see. In my opinion, that counts for more of a welfare loss than a welfare gain – how can people with serious issues trust the Welfare reps, knowing [they’ve] walked into their room when they weren’t there. The aim is understandable but the way this has been carried out really isn’t.”
Provost Rob Aitken said he was “disappointed in the comments on the Nicked Facebook events page particularly those from 2nd years from whom I would have expected a more responsible attitude.”
Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, expressed his delight at the campaigns initiative: “Personal belongings can be stolen in a matter of seconds. Hard-hitting campaigns like this can sometimes be shocking, but students are talking about security now, and if more students start locking their doors as a result, then I call that a big success.
Hughes confirmed that YUSU will review the college’s campaign but hopes, “that these important and shocking findings will add weight and immediacy to the University’s actions.”