Oxford students warned not to deal heroin

Lauren Garland - News Reporter 27 February 2010

Students at Christ Church College, Oxford, have been cautioned against the supply and use of heroin. College authorities circulated an email warning undergraduates that they will be handed over to police, and may be sent down, if they are found in possession of the class A drug.

The step was taken following the receipt of a letter sent anonymously to the college, alleging the existence of a “considerable drugs culture” in Christ Church. The letter directly accuses one individual, but the police have been unable to initiate an investigation as the allegation does not constitute valid evidence.

Junior Censor Ian Watson, who is in charge of discipline, sent an email to students that emphasises breaches of the law will not be tolerated by the college. In the email, he states that “the censors have neither the power nor the wish to protect anyone who breaks it.”

This is not the first time Christ Church has been linked to heroin. Olivia Channon, daughter of Conservative MP Paul Channon, died of an overdose at the college in 1986, during a post-examination celebration. The drugs party was held by Count Gottfried von Bismarck who himself then died following abuse of Class A drugs, in 2007.

Students at the college, however, remain sceptical about the allegations. An anonymous third year told Cherwell, Oxford’s student newspaper, that whilst he was aware of some drug use in Christ Church, he was “pretty shocked about the heroin”. He added: “It looks like some nutter coming in, seeing a few people looking rough, and saying they’re all smack-heads. It’s palpably false.” As yet, the accusations levelled against Christ Church students remain uncorroborated.

Allegations of this nature have not been reported in Cambridge. However, one second year student, who admits to using drugs during his time at university, told The Cambridge Student that though he has “never heard about students taking heroin in Cambridge”, he does know of students using other Class A drugs in the past. Yet he adds that “the term ‘drugs culture’ is sensationalist – the use of drugs is no more widespread than in any other university and does not pose a problem for the majority of students. The issue is blown out of proportion when Oxbridge students are involved.”

Lauren Garland – News Reporter