Edi Uni VP tells students to stay away from The Meadows and Portobello

And no, this isn’t an April Fools’ gag

In an email sent to students this afternoon, Edinburgh University Vice-Principal Colm Harmon effectively warned students to stay away from The Meadows and Portobello beach for the next few weeks.

The email begins with Colm congratulating the students for making it through such a challenging year, noting how amazed the University is at how we “simply keep going”.

The Meadows is a popular spot for students to relax outside and get fresh air

The VP then moves on to discussing “ongoing challenging behaviour – in Halls, in off-campus flats and houses, and perhaps even in outdoor venues like The Meadows or Salisbury Crags.”

He warned: “I am going to say again what I have said before – please do not jeopardise your aspirations and your career for a house party or other activity that goes against the rules.

“We cannot tolerate it given our responsibilities to you and to the city, and you will know well that we have even had some students leave their University accommodation due to their behaviour. More importantly Police Scotland won’t tolerate it – interactions with the police could result in an offence that will be on the record permanently, impacting on job choices, on travel plans etc.

“So, in the coming days and weeks don’t get caught up in anti-social behaviour on campus or elsewhere – you might want to head to The Meadows or Portobello, but so too do many others, some with the express intent of causing trouble. The best way to avoid all of that is to not go to these places at all.”

Edinburgh is currently in Level 4, with the ‘stay at home’ rule changing to ‘stay local’ from tomorrow, Friday 2nd April.

If students are essentially being told to stay away from The Meadows or Portobello, arguably the two most popular outdoor hangouts, where else are they supposed to go to get fresh air and spend their free time? Students can’t to go bars, restaurants or even friends’ flats, and now the university is advising students it is, perhaps, best not to leave their houses at all.

The VP warns students to be vigilant as they move about the city. He said: “You may be working late at the Library or other study spaces for example, leaving after dark. As we move into longer days, better weather, and also persistence of lockdown, there is a greater risk of anti-social behaviour, according to Police Scotland.

“The campus is not closed off from the city – which is great, but can bring risks. There is a sense of that risk being greater right now, especially around George Square or Bristo Square.

“Police officers and our campus security team will be patrolling the central area even more visibly in the coming weeks, but please be vigilant, be aware, and report anything that happens (or seems likely to happen), to any member of staff or the police. And if something doesn’t feel right, walk away.”

Students were warned of a heightened risk of anti-social behaviour in and around campus

It is all very well the university warning the students of any potential dangers and threats they may encounter in and around campus, but what students need is action from the university. The university is clearly aware of the dangers, and it would be more comforting for students to know the university is being proactive about the situation and taking measures to combat any risks, rather than simply warning students of current perceived threats on campus, especially at night.

A suggestion would be the positioning of permanent security guards outside the library in the evening, which could surely be funded by the 9k we pay to stare at our laptops all day.

The email concludes wishing students a “restful Spring break” to prepare for and complete exams and assessments. I speak for the many, not the few, when I say that the last thing I feel after reading the email is rested.

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