In this issue’s news section, The Saint covers recent verbal and physical attacks by younger students in town towards University of St Andrews students.
While the article itself gives a detailed history of the events and speaks to victims, one of the incidents may already be familiar to our audience, as student Chris Pringle’s Facebook post detailing his experience being jumped went viral on Facebook, with over 256 reactions and 101 shares.
With this, rumours of local school-kids attacking St Andrews students became the talk of the town, quickly leading students to want answers from the local police and Students’ Association as to what they would do to prevent future attacks and ensure student safety.
The response? Radio silence.
I’m certainly not the only one who, since seeing Mr Pringle’s post, has double-checked over their shoulder when walking home late at night. St Andrews has always felt like a safe bubble to me, but after hearing from the victims in our story on page 6, I’m exercising more caution and not taking an assumption of safety for granted. And therefore, a response and action from the aforementioned representative bodies is not only necessary for student welfare, but it’s also in their job description to up-hold student safety (at least it is for the University and police).
The Saint reached out to Police Scotland for information or updates on the attack on 13 October, as one of the students involved reported the incident to the police. In response, we were told that due to significant demand, they were unable to accommodate requests from students or for student publications. Our News Editor stated that The Saint was an independent publication picked up by more than just students, and that because this incident involved a student and was only made viral on social media, local newspapers not run by students were unlikely to hear about it and inquire, therefore no statement would ever be given by the police on the incident.
We were told that any urgent news in St Andrews would be issued on Police Scotland’s social media, yet no statement towards this incident has been issued. Is this incident not urgent or important enough for an official statement? If The Saint, the largest publication likely to inquire about the attacks, cannot get more official information from the police, will students ever get answers as to what happened and whether we should be wary of school-kids late at night?
Furthermore, if Police Scotland will not issue a statement on the attacks, it falls to the University and the Students’ Association to do so, even if they do not have more information but are simply stating they are aware of the situation and taking action, though it would ease students to know what that action is.
Student safety has never seemed to be a pressing concern for St Andrews students, but now that it is, more must be done in terms of transparency and an active change in protocol, including but not limited to a greater publicity of the University Security and Response Team, a greater patrolling of the St Andrews streets at night where these incidents have occurred, and action taken against the culprits of these attacks.