For most, going to a university as conveniently located as the University of Leeds is the ideal way to spend the early years of our adult life. Experiencing the academic advantages of a Russell Group University alongside the highly raved about, almost legendary, city nightlife, students of Leeds are blessed with the chance to go out any day of the week. However, for the local community – made up of young families and retired folk, a fact many students find all too easy to forget – the benefits of 3000 student volunteers per year doesn’t always quite balance out the late night noise of students rehearsing their S Club 7 tribute acts while returning home from yet another trip to Pryzm. The Gryphon explores anti-social behaviour amongst the student population and its repercussions for local residents.
The student atmosphere of living in halls is certainly unparalleled, giving a much-needed sense of community to anxious first years living away from home for the first time. The clusters of accommodation blocks such as Leodis, Montague Burton and IQ, positioned so close together, adds to a sense of community that can often lead to a disregard for other nearby residences. When families live on the same street as partying students, it often leads to letters of complaint being posted through doors- not to mention bleary-eyed security guards interrupting countless pres.
Not only does this happen in halls, but in the popular student areas of Headingley and Hyde Park too, only with notably worse outcomes. There were two instances of student houses being raided by police for complaints of loud music in 2014, and in 2015 the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team issued 534 noise abatement notices. More recently, in 2016, Leeds held the second highest amount of noise complaints in Yorkshire with a staggering 16 complaints in every 1000 residences.
Out of a population of roughly 751,500, Leeds has the biggest noise authority to combat this. Unsurprisingly, leaflets to raise awareness on how to combat these types of issues were being handed out at Freshers Week.
So how do you maintain the balance of living in a residential area while respecting your neighbours, but still making the most of the once in a lifetime student experience? And, just as importantly, how do you achieve your ideal student experience while allowing fellow students around you to realise there’s? You might consider rediscovering Natasha Bedingfield’s entire discography at 3am as the pinnacle of university life; the students next-door or across the hall from you might not. The classic Victorian houses many students share have less insulation than the fourth floor of the Brotherton, and this problem of thin walls amplifies when every student in the building has the ‘its freshers!’ attitude all year round.
“ in 2016, Leeds held the second highest amount of noise complaints in Yorkshire with a staggering 16 complaints in every 1000 residences.”
The Gryphon spoke to a group of second-year girls who shared a split level student house with a post-grad couple. They found the hard flooring proved to be a yearlong problem. With the post-graduates living on the lower level, hearing the constant footsteps up above drove the couple to complain about the “gang of rugby players upstairs”. It is clear that different age groups have different living expectations and this should certainly be taken into account when picking an area to live.
Another example is residential neighbours, deprived of the valuable sleep they need before a long day at work, banging on the door to physically confiscate a sound system, leading to a classic student reply of “er no you don’t, mate” and unnecessary hostile confrontations. Although it is a bit of a gamble in terms of who you will end up living next door to, the typical university living experience must have some level of co-operation.
This brings us to the question of how much the university experience is now dedicated to partying rather than academia and how this has given students an anti-social and disrespectful reputation. For first-years there is a definite pressure to go out to make friends and feel at home.
Going to university is about networking and building confidence despite paying £9000 a year. However, there is an underlying attitude that a degree can be finished in two years. Compare that to the 19th century when university was predominantly only available to the elite male. It could be argued that the pressure and importance of gaining a degree, an achievement that seems to be becoming more and more common nowadays, is not taken as seriously. Although receiving noise complaints will always be a constant of university life for some, for others, the issue has proved to be detrimental to their own experience of studying at university.
Whatever your current living situation may be, respect the thoughts of those around you; university is still a very valuable and prestigious opportunity and it goes by faster than you think.
If experiencing such issues, contact the Noise Nuisance Team for Leeds on 0113 395 0143.