Here’s what the University of Birmingham are doing to promote women’s safety on campus

‘It is the job for people in my position to try and follow the evolving threat and stop it’

A survey by The Birmingham Tab has revealed that 62 per cent of students asked have felt unsafe on campus and a further 93 per cent were unsure of the safety measures the University of Birmingham has in place.

Women’s Officer for the Guild of Students, Louisa Martin listed community wardens, the Selly Express and the Guild’s “Safe Space” as some of the strategies she has implemented during her tenure to promote women’s safety.

Other university initiatives include the #NotOn and You Report We Support campaigns.

Amid the rise in spiking concerns, The Birmingham Tab has been gathering information about what measures the university has in place to protect its students (particularly females) in other areas of concern.

The results from a series of Instagram polls suggest that 62 per cent of respondents have felt unsafe on campus at some point during their university experience. Almost half of those surveyed admitted that, in general, they don’t feel safe on campus. Moreover, 93 per cent added they are completely unaware of any protective measures set in place by the university for women.

The Birmingham Tab spoke to the Guild of Students’ Women’s Officer, Louisa Martin, to find out more about what initiatives the university has implemented to make students (specifically women) feel safe on campus.

Community wardens and Selly Express

Lou told The Birmingham Tab: “Sarah Everard’s death meant that women’s safety at night was taken a whole lot more seriously,” and more strategies have been introduced.

The Selly Express is a shuttle bus service provided by the university that takes students from the Edgbaston campus back to Selly Oak. It is available to everyone during term time and has two on-campus stops. One is on Ring Road North, opposite the Teaching and Learning building, and the other is Ring Road South, close to the Guild of Students bridge. The bus is wheelchair accessible and allows students to travel safely for free, provided they show their student ID.

Timetable information is available here.

Lou described to The Birmingham Tab how the community wardens “play a huge role in student safety particularly with the Selly shuttle bus,” which, recently, has been extended to drop students at more roads across Selly Oak.  “This is a great step in the right direction,” she said.

Response to reported spikings

Louisa described to The Birmingham Tab how she feels “the steps the guild have taken so far are going to help keep women safe.

“Having a safe space on Guild club nights was one of my manifesto points,” Louisa told The Birmingham Tab. “I’m proud that that is now in place.”

Other strategies introduced by the Guild of Students include increased bag searches, the use of metal detectors, the trial of passive drug detection dogs, and liaising with West Midlands police and university security to “enhance police presence within and around our venues.”

This comes after multiple allegations of students being spiked at the Guild during the student body’s Fab ‘N’ Fresh club nights over the past few weekends. The Guild has issued a statement regarding spiking which you can read here.

The #NotOn campaign

The Women’s Officer described to The Birmingham Tab the “fantastic work” the #NotOn campaign is doing in educating students about sexual harassment, and helping those who have experienced it. The campaign is currently holding three virtual workshops relating to consent, healthy relationships, and the LGBTQ+ community.

They also have a pledge against sexual harassment that says: “By signing our pledge you are saying that you stand with us in saying sexual harassment of any kind is not acceptable.” More information about the #NotOn campaign, the workshops and the pledge is available here.

You Report We Support

Alongside the resources provided by Lou, the university also offers further assistance to those who have been victims of sexual misconduct, writing on the UoB intranet page: “We are here to give you the support and advice you need.” This includes providing help to students reporting misconduct experienced by themselves or someone else, as well as for people who simply want someone to talk to.

Staying Safe 

More general information about how to stay safe on campus is also available on the University of Birmingham intranet. There are different sections that give details about keeping safe on and off campus, in-depth information about community wardens, and a specific page dedicated to advice on how to ensure your personal safety.

When asked if, overall, she thought these measures were effective, Louisa told The Birmingham Tab: “I don’t think they’re ineffective, but what we have learned after the (reported) spikings at Fab a few weeks ago is that they obviously do not go far enough.”

“It is the job for people in my position to try and follow the evolving threat and stop it,” she said.

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