UCC creates role to help relations after local residents complain of noisy parties

It follows a period of conflict between some residents in the vicinity of the college and a cohort of students in the locality
UCC creates role to help relations after local residents complain of noisy parties

RAG week is a week where students raise money for various charities. However, it has acquired a reputation for excessive partying.

UNIVERSITY College Cork (UCC) has become the first third-level institute in Ireland to appoint a dedicated neighbourhood support officer who will work with local residents and students to deepen relationships.

It follows a period of conflict between some residents in the vicinity of the college and a cohort of students in the locality, with residents highlighting concerns over an increase in noisy house parties and antisocial behaviour in the spring and summer of 2020 and into 2021.

Catherine Clancy, chairwoman of the Magazine Road and Surrounding Area Residents’ Association, said there has been a “marked difference” in the situation in recent weeks, particularly since the easing of restrictions.

Ahead of RAG (raise and give) week later this month, Ms Clancy said she is hopeful residents won’t encounter issues with incidents of antisocial behaviour.

RAG week is a week where students raise money for various charities. However, it has acquired a reputation for excessive partying.

“Last Monday night we had our monthly residents meeting,” said Ms Clancy. “UCC and the community guards were also present at that.

“We raised our concerns, especially with the experience that we had here last September when the students arrived back here.

“We have been reassured by the community guards that they will have a presence in the area from the Sunday night [February 27] onwards.

'HOPEFUL'

“We are hopeful that we’re probably in a different place than the last two years and that we won’t have the same issues around house parties. Young people will have more places to go, really.

“We’re working very much with UCC and they have appointed a new community worker from lobbying from the residents. They’re the first university in the country to have done that.

“We should hopefully be returning to a place where, prior to Covid, that we did share the community and it wasn’t such a traumatic experience for the people who live here.”

Ms Clancy acknowledged that the issues residents were having were caused by just one “cohort of students” and not the entire student population.

She said UCC has also given assurances that complaints residents make during RAG week will be followed up.

UCC Students’ Union communications and engagement officer Maeve Richardson said building better relationships between the union and local residents has been a priority for the union.

“That was one of our priorities coming into the union this year because we felt like things had broken down between the union and the residents,” she said.

“We have done litter picks with them, we try to meet up with the chairpersons of the local residents association regularly, we are here to hear their concerns.”

This year’s RAG week will raise much-needed funds for three charities — the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery, and Age Action South.

“With RAG coming back for the first time in a while, we’re really able to refocus on the charities and that’s what this is about,” said Ms Richardson. “We’re also asking all our students to be responsible, but we’re sure that they will.”

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