‘Students lack knowledge of consent’: We spoke to the admin behind Edi Anonymous
The page was inspired by the St Andrews Survivors account
The University of Edinburgh is no stranger to social media. Whether it be Overhead At Pollock, or the infamous MulletsofEdi, students of the university have taken it upon themselves to represent the parts of the Uni experience that have been the most impactful for them through Instagram and Facebook accounts alike.
But recently, a new account has begun documenting one of the darker yet all too common sides of university life. “Edi_anonymous” is an account that aims to provide a safe space for students of the University who have experienced sexual assault or violence. While the account is only new, it has already amassed over 1000 followers and posted the testimonies of many students.
We spoke to the student behind the account to get a better sense of what made them start it, what kind of effect the account has had on students, and what their goals are for the future of the account.
Who is edi_anonymous?
The admin of the account has chosen to remain anonymous and is an Edinburgh student in the final years of their degree program.
The St Andrews Survivors Instagram account came to my attention through mutual friends when it was newly founded, and I found myself reading every story that had been posted at the time. As someone who has recently experienced sexual assault, I related to so many of the thoughts and emotions that other students had submitted, and I knew I wanted to provide students in Edinburgh with the same opportunity to share their stories.
Overnight it became a spur of the moment decision to set up a similar account, and the level of engagement I have had from students within this first week has proven to me how much it was needed. Unlike St Andrews, Stirling and Aberdeen, Edinburgh Anonymous is not directly affiliated with one particular university or college and allows students across Edinburgh to use this page. A large part of my decision to manage this account has definitely been influenced by my own experience of sexual violence. Although it has been stressful and at times emotionally draining to read about so many similar experiences to my own, the positive feedback I have had from the account has certainly made it worthwhile.
What has the response been like?
As of today, the account has received 29 submissions, with 16 of them posted so far. The account has also received direct messages detailing stories of sexual violence that students did not want to be publicly posted but felt like they needed to reveal in some way. Edinburgh Anonymous has also received multiple direct messages with positive feedback from students but also their opinions on how they believe it can grow and continue to be developed.
Most often, many students simply message to thank the account for its existence. I am still working on bringing the account to the attention of a wider audience of students across Edinburgh and hope the momentum for the page continues to grow.
What we can learn about University life in Edinburgh from the account?
I am aware that St Andrews Survivors have described an “endemic rape culture” on campus and since this account is not directly affiliated with one particular university, it is difficult for me to comment on any similar societal cultures experienced around Edinburgh. However, from personal interactions with other students and also from some of the submissions to the account, it is clear students are lacking in knowledge as to where the lines of consent are drawn, in particular, cases of stealthing or non-violent assaults.
One submission even begins by stating that they were unaware stealthing existed until recently, and I’m sure this is the case for many students. There is so much variety to sexual violence that when students don’t understand what is a crime, difficulties arise and perpetrators do not understand the lasting impact this can have on a victim. This is where I believe change can be made within our society and therefore I will be considering how Edinburgh Anonymous can aid with this change as the account continues to gain momentum.
Moving forward the main goals of the account are to continue reaching a wider audience of students across Edinburgh in order to both raise awareness to those who wish to submit a story but also to bring this to the attention of those who have perhaps not ever been directly involved in a case of sexual violence. I am aware that St Andrews Survivors have been in contact with the University and have now introduced mandatory consent classes for all matriculating students. This is something that Edinburgh Anonymous will perhaps look into in the future depending on the level of engagement with the account over the next few weeks.
As stated above, helping students to understand exactly what defines sexual violence is something that I think will make a difference to the student community and will be considered by Edinburgh Anonymous moving forward.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh University told The Tab:
“The University does not tolerate sexual violence within its community, and takes any reports very seriously.
“Where a student tell us about their experience, we offer support to help them understand their options, including approaching the Police and/or reporting the matter formally through the appropriate University route.
“A range of confidential help and support is available for anyone affected, with the Students’ Association Advice Place providing frontline support for those who have experienced sexual violence, harassment or assault.”
If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual assault or harassment:
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 01 03 02/[email protected]
Rape Crisis Edinburgh: 0131 557 6737/[email protected]
Photo Credit: James Gourley