Following the recent scandals involving drugs within student accommodation at Bournemouth University, I interviewed two students: Fiona Shankland, 18, a business student, originally from Kent and Shannon Pywell, 18, a psychology student from Reading, to gain a student’s perspective on the bearing drug culture has on every day life at university.
Are you aware of excessive drug use within student accommodation/among people you know?
Fiona – “Yes, drugs are frequently used and particularly on nights out. There’s quite an obvious divide between people who do use and us who don’t, which creates an uncomfortable atmosphere making it difficult to live or interact with them everyday.”
Shannon – “I agree, drugs are used very regularly without any fear of repercussion or getting caught. You also get to hear a lot of stories of drug use, about people overdosing and getting spiked, which is worrying really.”
How accessible are drugs on campus?
Fiona – “It’s very easy to get drugs in accommodation, if you’re someone looking for them. Surprisingly it’s something that people aren’t afraid to talk about or brag about, anyone who sells drugs is pretty public about it.”
Shannon – “I know a variety of people, who sell a variety of drugs, as do many people. It goes to show that even when you’re not someone who uses drugs, you know where to find them. That must tell you how common it is?”
What type of drugs are accessible to use or buy with accommodation?
Fiona – “I’d probably say ‘weed‘ is the most common, you could argue it’s smoked just as much as a normal cigarette. You can smell it throughout the hallways of the building.”
Being at Uni, do you feel obliged or pressured to conform to drug culture?
Fiona – “Not particularly for me, but I can see why someone else might feel pressure. When you come to Uni, you suddenly find yourself with so much freedom. I think some people just do it and don’t think of their actual motive of taking them.”
Shannon – “I don’t think so, I know plenty of people who don’t use drugs but are part of a group who do. Personally I think it’s an individual choice and the idea that ‘everyone has to’ is just a student stereotype.”
What do you think should be done to stop drug use/selling drugs on campus? – Is enough being done?
Fiona – “I think it’s difficult for accommodation staff to prevent it, it happens behind closed doors. Room checks could be done spontaneously, but I suppose that invades privacy.”
Shannon – “Personally I don’t think enough is being done, instead of preventing things from happening, they wait for something to go wrong and then fix it, it is all too retrospective when it should be eradicated before any harm can be caused.”
How has drug culture and its availability affected you personally?
Fiona – “It’s affected me a lot, particularly the dynamic of my flat, between those who take drugs and those who don’t. My sleep is regularly interrupted by them, which has effected my work ethic and general desire to be here”
Shannon – “Other than being shocked and overwhelmed by it all, as I’m not from somewhere where drugs are so explicitly available and talked about, it has caused friction between me and others. Particularly when they choose to smoke weed or use drugs in communal areas. It has just made me feel uncomfortable and at times unsafe.”
Are you aware of any help available to you or others who have been affected by drugs? – Is there enough help available?
Fiona – “I think there is enough, but there’s a stigma attached to reporting it, as you’re labelled as ‘a snitch’ or whatever. Which can make you feel even more awkward as you’ve got to interact with these people on a daily basis in close confines.”
Shannon – “I’m not aware of anything really, especially locally. I don’t think enough is being done to raise awareness or encourage people to come forward for help.”