Please look af­ter this snowflake… fresh­ers given tags to get home

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Luke Mintz

FOR thou­sands of stu­dents around the coun­try ar­riv­ing for their first taste of univer­sity life, 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 bingedrink­ing 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.

“It’s a bit like putting col­lars on dogs or cats,” he told The Sun­day Tele­graph. “It’s per­fectly all right for five or sixyear-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.

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

‘It’s a bit like putting col­lars on dogs or cats. When you treat them like that you’re as­sum­ing they are chil­dren’

them when to go to bed, what to eat, when to ex­er­cise, how to look af­ter them­selves, what to do, what not 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.”

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 well-be­ing of our res­i­dents,” he said.

He added that the com­pany has had an “ex­tremely pos­i­tive re­sponse” to the wrist­bands from stu­dents.

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