An important message from your Women's Officer

(CN: spiking, sexual violence, needles)

As your Women’s Officer, I wanted to update on what the SU has been doing to address incidents of spiking, and also discuss the issue in a little more length than can be addressed in a social media post. This is extremely distressing news to be dealing with for many people, and the following sources of support are available for any who need them:

 

NHS Information on Drink Spiking and Personal Safety: www.nth.nhs.uk/content/uploads/2017/07/AE2594-drink-spiking-july-2017.pdf 

SU Student Advice Service: www.cambridgesu.co.uk/support/advice/ 

The University Sexual Assault and Harassment Advisor (SAHA): www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/sexual-assault-and-harassment-advisor 

UCS Student Guidance: www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/sexual-assault-and-harassment-advisor/studentguide  
Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre: http://cambridgerapecrisis.org.uk/ 

Samaritans: www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/ 

 

What has been going on?

 

I want to start off by addressing the reports of spiking via needle injection. These reports have understably been extremely frightening for many students, but there is also a lot of misinformation which I want to address to provide some reassurance to students. I would really encourage everyone to read this very informative article about what we do know. 

This is being discussed heavily now, but spiking has been a problem for much longer than the last week or so, particularly during Freshers’ Weeks, and is something that happens to people of all genders, not just women. The increase in reporting is not necessarily proportionate to the recent increase in instances. Nonetheless, these news stories have been incredibly distressing to read, and it’s completely fine to take a break from reading the news or being on social media to take care of yourself. 

Much of the discussion centres around introducing safety measures or how individuals can keep themselves and their friends safe. Throughout this, it is important to emphasise that spiking, and any other instances of sexual violence, are never the fault or responsibility of the victim. Victim-blaming is never okay.

If you think you’ve seen someone spiking a drink, you should report the incident to the venue immediately. Bar staff, security, or porters (if you’re at a college) should have been briefed on how to handle the situation and ensure everyone's safety. If it’s in a house party or similar setting, tell the person whose drink it is and check that they’re okay, and if appropriate inform the host.

 

What has the SU been doing?

 

  • As part of the ongoing work the Women’s Campaign have been doing on safer nights out, I have been contacting all of the clubs in Cambridge to push for more robust staff training and safety measures such as the Ask for Angela scheme. 

  • Ben, your Welfare and Community Officer, circulated resources to J/MCR representatives, which you can also find on the Women’s Campaign’s social media. They have also been in communication with JCR and MCR officers to provide support 

  • I will be working with both the SU and the University to improve consent workshop provisions and introduce active bystander training.

  • The SU has signed the Nightclub Safety Appeal. Following from this we will be in touch with clubs in future to check up on whether these demands have been met and safety has been improved

 

I fully support the boycott of clubs taking place tomorrow, on the 27th of October, and would encourage every student to participate. The boycott was organised by student campaigners, and following on from it, Cambridge SU would like to see clubs adopt the measures detailed in the Nightclub Safety Appeal and treat the safety of their patrons as a priority.

When we introduce new measures to keep people safe we need to make sure that those measures do not end up causing unintended harm. With this in mind I would like to clarify that I do not extend support to the petition that has been frequently associated with the boycott. Giving bouncers increased searching powers will cause more harm, and I would much rather see improved training for venue staff, and a harm-reduction approach to supporting people who are intoxicated.

 

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