Durham SU forced to apologise after making ASMR video about its student food bank

‘The attempt to aestheticise a student food bank is a deeply, deeply ignorant and damaging act’

Durham Students’ Union has been forced to apologise after making an ASMR video about its new Student Foodbank, which is aimed at students struggling in the cost of living crisis.

The now-deleted video included footage of staff playing around and tapping on products in the Foodbank whilst unwrapping boxes of donated items in an ASMR style.

The 93% Club has called this a “deeply, deeply ignorant and damaging act”.

The SU also asks for Student Foodbank donations from fellow students of sanitary products and tinned foods, amongst other items.

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and the Cambridge English Dictionary describes ASMR as:

“A pleasant tingling feeling that some people experience on their skin, especially on the head and neck, especially when they hear certain soft sounds such as whispering or brushing. The sensation of ASMR has been described as being like a mild electrical current. There are hundreds of ASMR videos online that are supposed to help you relax.”

The SU says the ASMR video aimed to “visually promote the Foodbank in a way to try and destigmatise any unnecessary shame or worry about having to use one.

“However, we do recognise how this can undermine the significance of the problems currently facing students, and for that we apologise”.

In order to use the Student Foodbank, students need a referral from a member of university support staff, either in college, the central university support services, or from the SU itself. Students have three days to collect their food parcel after referral.

Students are required to give their student ID number in order to receive a support parcel, and must provide their student ID card upon collection at the Durham SU reception. Despite compromising students’ identities, the SU says data is not held for more than three days.

Dan Lonsdale, a spokesperson for the The 93% Club, a society whose aims are to “dismantle the class inequality that exists in Britain”, said:

“The attempt to aestheticise a student food bank is a deeply, deeply ignorant and damaging act. Students are on the breadline. We’re fighting for the soul of the university here. It’s students, staff and residents against landlords and management, and the institution meant to be supporting students, fighting for us, is out here posting this instead of working to help.

“On donations and referrals, it’s a difficult situation. It’s not ideal students have to be referred nor that it relies on donations which will undoubtedly be strained. However, this is clearly further proof of how important it is we challenge the university to act and help students.”

The spokesperson also stressed that “this was not the doing of SU Sabb Officers, but of a staff member. Sending abuse or snarky comments to student officers is of no use, particularly when most of them do want to help”.

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