North East Universities Pledge to Protect New Students From Drug Use as New Academic Year Begins

As hundreds of students head to the North East to begin their studies, universities in the region have pledged to keep freshmen safe.

Two years have passed since the tragic deaths of undergraduate students Jeni Larmour and Nathaniel Pavlovic, who died just hours after arriving in the city.

Jeni, 18, a student at the University of Newcastle, Northern Ireland, was found unresponsive in her halls of Park View Student Village, Richardson Road, in the early hours of Saturday 3rd October 2020. She has unfortunately been declared died at the scene and fellow student Kavir Kalliecharan was later charged with possession of MDMA (a class A drug), possession of ketamine (a class B drug) and possession of cannabis, as part of the investigation into Jeni’s death.

The 19-year-old politics student, from Coleridge Close in Leeds, pleaded guilty to the offenses and was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 in costs and a victim surcharge of £21.

Read more:Newcastle University secures £720,000 research funding for drugs to treat rare dementia

Just after 8am on Sunday October 4, 2020, it was reported that Northumbria University student Nathaniel, 21, from Halifax in West Yorkshire, had fallen ill while digging on Melbourne Street. He was taken to hospital where he died shortly afterwards. An inquest heard he died after consuming substances “which have not yet been identified”.

Jeni Larmour, photographed in 2018

Over the past year, many students across the UK have also raised concerns about drinking spikes and spikes in injection incidents during the evenings. Durham and Newcastle were among the cities to stage a nightclub boycott last fall.

Ahead of the new academic year, universities across the North East shared measures in place to keep freshmen safe while studying in the region.

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: “At Newcastle we work very hard to educate our students about the dangers of drug use and to support those affected by their own or someone else’s use. We take a harm reduction stance on student drug use, with an emphasis on safeguarding, education, support, and effective policies and procedures.

“Our teams are working together with Northumbria Police, Student Health and Welfare, Student Accommodation and Progress, to take appropriate action to protect our community, while ensuring that vulnerable students are effectively supported and the wellness department if they use or plan to use drugs.”

Durham University works with the County Durham Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service to provide support and education for students and staff. Those with concerns about drug or alcohol related issues can contact a dedicated email account, specifically for members of the Durham University community, which can be found here.

In its drug policy, the University of Sunderland said it would “always take an appropriate and proportionate response to any student or employee caught, under the influence, in possession of, or selling or supplying any form of illegal drugs”.

For people living in university accommodation, their accommodation contract expressly prohibits the abusive use of narcotics on University premises. Students found to have breached the terms of their accommodation contract may be required to terminate their accommodation contract.

A spokesperson for the University of Sunderland said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students is of the utmost importance. Our wellbeing team are available 24/7 to support and advise our students in case of problems.

“While we do not offer on-campus drug testing, we work closely with and promote relevant local organizations. Our student union takes an active role in promoting guidance to students on how to stay safe when they’re out.”

A spokesperson for Northumbria University said: “Throughout the year, and particularly at the start of term, we encourage our students to stay safe and to continue to remind them of their responsibilities and to take care each other, especially in social situations.Students can also speak with a university social counselor or healthcare professional without an appointment, and they have access to support 24/7 if they need to talk with someone in confidence.”

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