For thousands of students around the country arriving for their first week at university freshers’ week is a time of experimentation out of sight of their parents.
But today’s generation of ‘snowflake’ students seem not to be trusted to avoid the pitfalls and take themselves home safely at the end of a night on the town.
One student housing company is handing out Paddington Bear-style wristbands printed with their address and emergency contact details.
Campus Living Villages is giving the brightly-coloured safety wristbands to 13,000 first-year students this month, including undergraduates from the Universities of Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool.
The scheme has been labelled patronising by leading academics amid fears they could encourage binge-drinking by lulling students into a false sense of security.
Frank Furedi, an emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, said that the wristbands “infantilise” students.
Sir Anthony, the former headmaster of Wellington College, said: “I think schools could do much more to prepare people.
It is the biggest transition students will have in their lives. “Suddenly students find themselves at university without anybody telling them when to go to bed, what to eat, when to exercise, how to look after themselves, what to do, what no to do. And it’s a very, very difficult transition.”
“Freshers’ weeks are often wonderful for students, but becoming so drunk that you need a wristband to help you isn’t going to result in everyone having a good time.”
The wristbands come amid a growth in the number of ‘educational workshops’ organised by student unions during freshers’ week, with many Russell Group universities now holding compulsory ‘sexual consent classes’.
Other universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, will hold workshops covering racial awareness and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, where first-year undergraduates will be taught how to avoid sexist or racist “migro-aggressions” against other students.
“It’s a bit like putting collars on dogs or cats,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “It’s perfectly alright for 5 or 6-year-olds, but when you treat young men and women like that you’re assuming they are children who need to be subjected to this intense level of paternalism.”
“There’s this assumption [at university] that if you get drunk, that’s an irredeemable problem and you’re going to be damaged for life. It’s a normal part of growing up – they should really just chill out and leave students to get on with stuff.”
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, also criticised the wristbands, adding that too many students arrive at university unable to deal with the challenges of adulthood.
Prof Furedi labelled these workshops a “social engineering project”. When students arrive at university, he said, “all of a sudden they find initiatives which are attempting to change the way they think and behave.”
Richard Gabelich, CEO of Campus Living Villages, which owns 15 student housing sites across the country, said the company hopes to ensure that students are living “safely and responsibly”.
“It’s important to us to do whatever we can to further ensure the safety and wellbeing of our own residents as soon as they walk through our doors to the end of the academic year,” he said.
“We believe these festival-inspired wristbands will go some way to ensuring that safety and reduce any concerns for our residents.” He added that the company has had an “extremely positive response” to the wristbands from students.
Source: Telegraph Media Group Limited