Bristol Uni threatens a whole Hiatt Baker block with fines over Covid breaches
Students are being encouraged to ‘rat’ each other out
Bristol Uni has threatened all residents of Hiatt Baker block C with fines following a “significant breach of Covid-19 regulations”. The same email was also sent to students in Badock Hall, also accused of breaking Covid-19 rules.
An email sent to all Block C residents has stated fines will be issued “to all residents of C block unless individuals responsible for organising and promoting the large gathering either come forward or are identified”. The cost of the fine has not yet been specified.
The university alleges that over 200 students were gathered the event on Saturday 21st in block C, and a spokesperson said there has been an increase of students disobeying the rules in both Hiatt Baker and Badock. Those responsible for the event at Hiatt Baker have not yet come forward.
The university says that fights broke out, and that “a member of staff was assaulted”, which is why they are taking such strong action. The university has confirmed that it was a member of security services who was assaulted.
We've heard that students in Hiatt Baker block C have been emailed this warning that the whole block may be fined as punishment for covid breaches. While we don't condone breaches of regulations, this email is clearly highly distressing .. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/qMoWq4KZwV
— Rent Strike Bristol (@RentStrikeBris) November 24, 2020
A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly but over the past few weeks, particularly at Hiatt Baker and Badock, students have continued to disregard Government and University guidelines around social distancing by holding large gatherings.
“Last weekend around 150-200 students came together at Hiatt Baker. Fights broke out and a member of staff was assaulted. This is completely unacceptable, and we would not be fulfilling our duties to protect students, staff and indeed the wider community if we didn’t take action. Students themselves and their families have urged us to take further action to stop this unacceptable behaviour.
“We have continually reminded students about the vital importance of adhering to the rules and to keep within their own living circles and have re-iterated that we will not hesitate to take disciplinary action if necessary.
“After this weekend’s events, we have decided that unless those people who organised and were involved in the gatherings come forward, we will have no choice but to fine entire living circles or blocks.
“We are genuinely sorry that we have had to do this and appreciate that many students living in Hiatt Baker and Badock are adhering to the rules and will be upset that this has become necessary. We therefore appeal to those responsible to come forward so action can be taken appropriately.
“If students have proposals or suggestions as to alternative approaches that will stop this unacceptable behaviour we are more than happy to receive these and we will be arranging virtual block meetings over the next few days to engage with students on how we can work together to address the ongoing behavioural concerns.”
Bristol Rent Strike, a group that is currently protesting the university for its treatment of students in halls, said in a statement on Twitter: “The encouragement for students to essentially ‘rat’ each other out is disgusting at a time when students collective mental health is at an all time low.
“We hope that the uni will withdraw this threat and issue an apology to all affected.”
Bristol students are currently withholding over £1 million in rent. Less than a week ago the university was forced to U-turn after it threatened to take unpaid rent out of bursary money, following pressure from rent strikers.