Despite a precedence having been set over the past few years, no extraordinary measures seem to have been taken to ensure that students toed the curb at bus stops in UCD on Monday 17th – the first day of term. What was described as anti-social behaviour inevitably broke out and bus services were cancelled after both buses and drivers were abused.
For a long time, unpleasant and rowdy behaviour has been commonplace on late-night UCD bus routes, in particular on the first and last days of term when the night-time services are at their busiest. The curtailing of services in Belfield on Black Monday was something that should therefore have been expected if previous years were anything to go by.
However, it is not the responsibility of UCD or Dublin Bus to arrange extra security in an attempt to curb students’ anti-social activities as they wait to be transported to town; it is in fact no-one’s responsibility but our own to behave in a manner expected of us as adult members of society. Unfortunately, this is a message that has not yet registered with a significant proportion of Belfield’s student population.
One would think that having reached third level education, students would have enough common sense to be, or at least act in the manner of, the adults they were long ago expected to become. However, it is evident from the statements released by both Dublin Bus and the Students’ Union that UCD students are not, in fact, behaving in a socially acceptable manner.
As a student body, we protested against an increase in the registration fee, the introduction of third level fees and graduate unemployment; exactly how much of our credibility will remain down the line if we allow it to be so easily whittled away by our own reckless actions?
What can only be described as a boorish display of intoxication led to the assault and injury of a security guard on Monday evening in one of the residences on campus. It is unfortunate that it is students, and students of our own university, who are the ones that members of campus security are there to protect us from – it is not a deranged madman who might be hiding in the bushes, but a person who has consumed one too many drinks in the student bar.
Not only is security’s safety being compromised but also that of our fellow students. Residential Assistants across campus had to deal with numerous drinking violations in residences, as well as threatening and unpleasant behaviour from their peers. Why is this something that people are willing to inflict on their fellow students? The question remains whether the promise of getting drunk is such an inviting one that students are willing to cause a multitude of problems for not only themselves, but for those around them.
The disgraceful behaviour exhibited makes it questionable whether UCD students are ready for the soon to be implemented initiative, Safe Spaces. Is this yet another service that will eventually be withdrawn once it becomes evident that students are unable to control themselves and their behaviour? It is an excellent initiative, but if we as students cannot behave on our own campus, what is it that inspires peoples’ confidence in us to mind our manners outside of it?
The idea of Black Monday that is ingrained in first years’ minds, and that sticks with students as they move up through their years in UCD, is that of a day of frivolity and irresponsibility – skip your lectures, wear a suit and enter the campus “institution” that is the student bar for a day of madness and mayhem. Surely incapacitating yourself for the first two days of the semester is not the way one wants to start a school year – though if the first day of the 2011 academic year is anything to go by, it certainly seems to be the case.
While most anti-drinking campaigns are targeted at motorists, it is perhaps time for university students to be included in such schemes. A huge significance is placed on alcohol in university; free drinks are offered as an initiative for students to show up to events, and nights out are often marketed on what array of cheap drinks will be available rather than what the main entertainment or music attraction of the evening will be – though if people are too intoxicated to notice, does anyone really care?