Cambridge SU launches awareness campaign supporting student safety on nights out
The campaign aims to help all students feel ‘safe, supported and empowered’ whilst on a night out in Cambridge
Cambridge SU and the SU Women’s Campaign have launched a week-long awareness campaign today (07/06) that aims to “empowe[r] students to have a safe night out” and “comba[t] the causes of harm” at student parties and events.
Ahead of the potential further easing of Covid restrictions on 21st June, this “BEST Night Out” campaign aims to raise awareness of some of the main harms associated with nights out, such as the risk of spiking and travelling at night. It also helps college committees and societies prioritise safety during the event planning process by providing a checklist of measures to put in place.
Chloe Newbold, the SU Women’s Officer, explains that the campaign aims to “challenge the harmful narrative that things like spiking and harassment are natural features of student nightlife”, creating “safe and inclusive” spaces for student nightlife where all students feel “safe, supported and empowered” and “equally able to participate in all aspects of University life.”
The campaign is called “BEST Night Out”, with “BEST” reflecting the campaign’s aims to centre Bystander intervention, Empowerment, Support and the importance of Togetherness in building a safe nightlife for Cambridge students.
They aim to raise awareness of some of the main harms associated with nights out, such as the risk of travelling across the city at night, spiking, and how to safely be an “active bystander.”
The campaign also helps college committees and societies prioritise safety in the event planning process by providing a checklist of measures to put in place, including gender-neutral toilet facilities, a designated quiet zone, applying Covid-19 safety guidelines, and clearly signposted policies for sexual harassment.
The campaign “acknowledges” the impact Covid-19 has had on student safety and has thus incorporated social distancing within the checklist of measures.
It also recognises the need to improve the “accessibility” of student nightlife through providing non-alcoholic options, quiet spaces and following the guidelines produced by the Disabled Students’ Campaign.
Cambridge SU Women’s Officer, Chloe Newbold, says that although nights out have been temporarily paused due to the pandemic, this has not removed the harms that “so often” occur at college parties and associated venues, and they stress that the easing of restrictions must not mark a return to these kinds of harms.
They elaborate on how the pandemic has affected student nightlife, explaining how because of Covid, many students will be “unfamiliar” with Cambridge and its student nightlife, so they want to use this campaign to help all students feel “empowered and supported” during their post-exam celebrations, and “equally able to participate in all aspects of University life.”
Chloe continues: “With this campaign we want to encourage community action amongst students to build safe and inclusive spaces, removing the burden of advocacy from the individual students most affected by harassment on nights out. We want to challenge the harmful narrative that things like spiking and harassment are natural features of student nightlife.”
They stress, however, that while this campaign aims at “empowering” students and volunteers, colleges and venues themselves “must be taking responsibility” for their role in “promoting student safety.”
This campaign is a core component of the SU Women’s Campaign’s work to promote a “culture of consent” and “student empowerment” on campus, building on the consent education programme and Reclaim the Night Vigil held last March.
The week the campaign is running on, Monday 7th June until Friday 12th June, comes ahead of the possible further easing of Covid-19 guidelines on 21st June, and post-exam celebrations for students as end-of-year assessments come to a close.
Cambridge SU have said they believe every student “has a right to be safe, supported and empowered” whilst on a night out, and they are looking forward to continuing to work on this with student leaders, including JCR and MCR officers, ahead of Freshers’ Week in Michaelmas.
Feature image credit: Izzy Porter