Students who set off fireworks at the new University of Northampton campus were aiming for an explosive repeat episode the following night but were thwarted by police, it has been revealed.
The fireworks incident, on Bonfire Night, was one of a host of issues that was discussed at a Northampton Borough Council meeting last night (Thursday November 22) investigating the impact of the move to the Waterside Campus at Midsummer Meadows.
Councillors were also told how the Student Union had rallied online to show their disappointment at the actions of their colleagues, and were fed up of being ‘tarred with the same brush’.
The scrutiny panel of the borough council convened at The Guildhall to hear representatives from the University and its student union, Northamptonshire Police, and neighbours.
Asked by Councillor Dennis Meredith about the fireworks incident, Sergeant Lorna Clarke, of the university policing team, said: “There was an incident on fireworks night that made the local media.
“As a result, the following day the police worked with the security team to see if we could identify any individuals.
“We carried out searches across the site, and we were initially told that the people who did this were going to repeat the same actions the following night.”
Becky Bradshaw, head of safety and security at the university, told the panel that 13 students had been taken through a disciplinary process, and that sanctions through that process could range from written warnings to suspension or expulsion.
The university’s head of public relations, Owen Morris, added: “So many students were going on social media to say how frustrated they were, that they were being tarred with that brush and that their education was being denigrated by that kind of behaviour.”
And president of the student union, Rafael Garcia-Krailing, told councillors: “Sadly these negative things that have happened have overshadowed the many great things we’ve done so far. Unfortunately, there’s about 10 per cent of the students, the ones who are causing problems, who don’t want to integrate. And until we solve some of these issues, the positives will be overshadowed.”
But responding to a question by Councillor Gareth Eales as to whether the move from the Park Campus to Waterside had gone better or worse than expected, she replied: “There have been some issues, there was always going to be. But I think it’s actually gone better than I anticipated. We are moving thousands of students through the site and while my team is busy and working hard, we’re not working on the issues we expected to.
“These people are young, vulnerable and away from home for the first time, so we are almost over policing them to give them a little bit of guidance.
“Those causing problems are in the minority, and it’s the same across the whole town.”