Not long ago we promised that we are doing everything in our power to stamp out spiking on campus. Our priority is to keep you safe, and we are working closely with the University and the Police to ensure this.
Firstly, we would like to apologise for the words used in our recent Instagram post on this topic. We believe drawing attention to the steps people can take to minimise the risks to themselves and their friends is part of our responsibility. However we acknowledge that our intentions may not have come across as we hoped and it could be interpreted as victim blaming. Let us be clear - we will never blame someone for being the victim of spiking, or any other harmful behaviour. We are on your side and will make sure that people found to be spiking are held to account.
We would like to reiterate that we are taking this matter very seriously. Anyone who is found to be spiking others will be excluded from our venues and the matter referred to the University and the Police. People found to be spiking others are at risk of exclusion from UEA, barring them from their chosen career and potentially also receiving a criminal record.
By spiking you are putting the health of your peers at risk, and ruining people’s university experience. We will not tolerate this behaviour. Don’t spike people.
Now, here is where we are…
- As usual, only students and their guests are allowed into the venues during club nights
- We will have more advisory and informative posters to help students in emergencies. We will make sure accessibility needs are met when creating these
- We have increased our searches and aim to search all bags upon entry and re-entry, as well as searching 1 in 5 people in the queue. Security is throughout the venue keeping an eye on student safety
- We are adapting the way we serve drinks to make it safer. We also have anti spiking devices - so please ask at the bar if you would like one
- As always, we have trained staff, including our Alcohol Impact Crew, security and first aiders on site if you need assistance or are feeling vulnerable or unwell. Our staff are constantly being updated on the ever-developing situation so they know exactly what they should be looking for
- Similarly, our staff are monitoring the developing situation nationally and we are working with NUS and SUs across the country to exchange best practice
- We are aware of reports in the media of cases of spiking using needles and will continue to be vigilant against this abhorrent act.
- While this is incredibly scary and concerning, especially when there are posts talking about HIV transmission as a result of needle spiking, which are currently unsubstantiated and can cause greater fear and anxiety – please be careful what you share online as misinformation can be harmful. Find out more - National AIDS Trust
If you suspect you or a friend have been spiked, the best thing you can do is report it on the night. This is when we are most likely to catch the person harming students. You can approach any member of the team, bar staff, Alcohol Impact, venue staff or security and they will listen to you and they will take it seriously. You can also contact the Residential Life Team 24 hours a day.
If you wanted to report a suspected spiking after your night out, please use the Report and Support to inform us. If you share your details, this will be thoroughly investigated. If your prefer to remain anonymous, still report it as this helps us to build up a picture of the extent of the problem, so we can better understand how to tackle it.
We want everyone to be able to enjoy a safe night out and we will be sharing more information and resources around this in our upcoming 'Night to Remember' activities, as part of Alcohol Awareness week 15 – 19 November. More information will be available shortly about events during the week plus look out for our Night to Remember booklet which has loads of useful information about drinking responsibly and this year’s theme alcohol and relationships.
We understand that many students, and women students in particular, are feeling scared and vulnerable right now. We also understand that this is not just because of the current situation around spiking, but due to a culture that allows habitual harassment of women and violence towards women to go largely unchallenged. We believe that the actions above, whilst important, are tackling the symptoms of the issue and not the cause, and this is where we now want to turn our focus to.
We know that harassment and violence against women is under reported and that when it is reported, women often feel unsupported and exposed within a criminal justice system that has a very poor track record of convictions and good outcomes for women. We know that the root cause of this is the ongoing inequality of power between women and men, where men dominate spaces where women’s safety, rights and bodies are debated. This inequality plays out from nursery, to school, to higher education and into the workplace.
We understand that these power dimensions are also impacted by race, sexuality, religion and the myriad other intersectional aspects of our identities. For example, we know that trans women of colour are the most likely to be victims of violent crime. We believe that this is a gender-based issue, whilst recognising gender exists on a spectrum and that there are a wide range of views and experiences at all points of the spectrum. We recognise that non-binary individuals, particularly those who were assigned female at birth (afab) can also be subjected to harassment and violence due to their perceived femininity.
We know that the key to tackling issues like spiking and women’s safety in general, is in tackling the negative messages that men and boys receive about acceptable and unacceptable behaviours towards people, and specifically women. We believe that men are negatively impacted by these messages of toxic masculinity too and that they feel pressure to behave in certain ways in order to be accepted by their peers. If you are a man reading this, we ask you to reflect on ways you can help challenge toxic masculinity and use your influence among your peers, as well as looking out for your female friends on nights and reporting anything that concerns you.
This is something we have been working with the University on through our shared Changing the Culture project. It is not a quick fix – changing a culture takes time - but we accept that these efforts in this space need to be escalated and we commit to doing this in partnership with students, the University, the SU sector, the Police and Norwich City Council.
Watch this space for updates about what we are working on and if you would like to be involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like support from our advice(su) team on this or any other issue, get in touch
Patrycja Poplawska, Womens+ Officer
Aaron Campbell, Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer
Ayane Hida, Postgraduate Education Officer
Ivo Garnham, Undergraduate Education Officer
Lizzie Payne, Activities and Opportunities Officer