DRARA University Liaison (Karen Metcalfe)
(followed by Brookes’ Liaison Team annual report)
DRARA works with both universities to improve relations between residents and students. The majority of students in this area are from Brookes University, and DRARA is in regular communication with Brookes about measures which can be taken to improve relations.
Throughout the year I have attended Residents Associations Meetings at Brookes University on behalf of DRARA. Following discussions at these meetings and with members of the community engagement team, actions have been taken to address noise and the drunken behaviour of large groups of students on Wednesday nights:
Emma Trundley attended the Sports Captains’ training day at the start of the semester to convey messages about behavioural expectations, raising awareness of the negative impact it had on both residents and the University’s reputation and asked Captains to lead by example. It was noticed that many sports societies were having society parties in residential houses which were causing noise disturbance to residents. The complaints procedure was used effectively to address these issues. In particular, a Stage 2 meeting was held along with the Director of Sport and the society committee members, which had a positive effect and the students had changed their behaviour.
It was reiterated at a recent meeting between the Community Engagement, DRARA and the Senior Response Officer from Oxford City Council that where residents felt a situation had impacted negatively on their lives and caused noise nuisance that they should make it clear when they reported the incidents. Both Brookes and DRARA are looking into updating the process to report a concern on their websites.
Please refer to the Brookes Community Engagement update below
Oxford Brookes Community Engagement (Andrea Siret, Head of Community Engagement and Social Responsibility)
The Oxford Brookes Community Engagement Team works to establish and strengthen positive relationships with residents/resident groups. Listed below are some of the activities and information provided by the team to assist residents, both student and permanent.
The Team: Oxford Brookes has undergone a slight restructure and now the team includes the University’s social responsibility activities, incorporating the social responsibility framework. There are still three full time members of staff in the newly formed Community Engagement and Social Responsibility Team, led by Andrea Siret, Head of Community Engagement and Social Responsibility. The team work to ensure that concerns raised are properly dealt with as well as pro-actively engaging with residents to implement new initiatives that enable students and residents to live harmoniously in the community.
Student Community Wardens: The University employs a team of 16 Student Community Wardens to cover areas of East Oxford, including DRARA. The wardens work to help students settle into living in their private rented accommodation and assist in resolving tension that may arise between residents.
Agency links: The team has strong working relationships with the council and police. We work in partnership to tackle issues that arise within the community and share information to ensure that this process is more joined up. The University has recently appointed a Crime Prevention Manager who works closely with our Student Community Wardens to assist in the local community.
Burglary Prevention Campaign: The Student Community Wardens are working with the Crime Prevention Manager and the East Oxford Police Community Support Officers to help raise awareness and provide advice to our students living in the local community. This will include joint patrols within DRARA and will contribute to the intelligence which will be shared with the police.
House Champion Scheme: This is a joint initiative which includes the council, police and both universities. All student properties are asked to nominate a House Champion to act as the main contact should any concerns arise about that property.
Working with landlords and letting agents: Following a successful presentation at the Landlords Information Exchange event run by the council in March, the team have established new contacts with local landlords and letting agents. The team have been working with these contacts to distribute the introductory House Champion packs to Oxford Brookes students at the time they sign their tenancy agreement prior to them moving in to their properties. The aim is to provide information and guidance on living in the local community to students as early as possible. Having a good working relationship with these letting agents and landlords enables us to share information and work together on any issues that arise.
DRARA Link: The University has a link person, Karen Metcalfe, and we have regular contact to discuss student and university issues and how we can work together to address resident concerns.
Get to know your neighbour campaign: A new initiative for this year is the ‘Get to know your neighbour’ campaign and the University is working collaboratively with DRARA to ensure consistent messages and encourage residents and students to introduce themselves and learn about each other’s lifestyles. Look out for information on this which will be coming soon.
Communication: The team has a programme of communication for all residents including: an arrivals letter (to inform that students will be returning shortly), a year planner, Get to know your neighbour leaflet, a Brookes and the Community leaflet, Student Community Warden leaflet and Open Campus leaflet. All of these provide information on our processes and how to contact us. You can also sign up to our Community Engagement newsletter which is issued twice a year during the academic year via email. You can sign up by joining the email distribution list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complaints process: There is a formal complaints process that is followed by the Community Engagement team to ensure that all concerns raised to the University are logged and action is taken.
The Mint House: The team are working with the Mint House to design a collaborative approach to dealing with complaints, including embedding aspects of restorative practices at each stage of our processes.
Resident Association Meetings: The University meets three times a year with Resident Associations to discuss topics of mutual interest. This provides a forum for concerns to be raised by local residents to senior members of staff.
Education: One of the key initiatives that provides information and encourages students to be good neighbours is the ‘From Hall to Home’ campaign. Students living in halls are visited at the end of the academic year and provided with advice before moving into the private rented sector.
Wednesday night noise specific:
- The Community Engagement team has met with Club Captains of sports clubs within Brookes Sport regarding behaviour and what is expected of them.
- We have continued the Shhh communication, involving the distribution of flyers to student households within the East Oxford community. This is to encourage students to consider residents when going to and returning from nights out as well as informing them of consequences of their actions under the Student Conduct Regulations.
Meet and Greet: As with previous years the team will be organising an event in East Oxford to take place in October. This event will provide an opportunity for local residents and students to meet our team of Student Community Wardens and the Community Engagement Team, together with representatives from the Council’s Community Response Team, Waste and Recycling Team and Thames Valley Police. You will also be able to discuss any concerns you may have with relevant representatives. Details of this event will be available shortly and please do come along, refreshments will be provided.
General Communication: We encourage residents to engage with Brookes and invite you to come to visit any of our campuses at any time. There are regular events open to all including the Open Lectures and there are also a number of facilities open to the public, which can be found in our Open Campus leaflets. We do hope that you will come and visit us soon.