Meet the third year Edi student and founder of Girls Night In

‘It’s not fair that our club experiences are being tainted by the fear, worry and anxiety of being drugged’

Girls Night In Edinburgh made their first Instagram post on the 17th of October with the simple aim to encourage students to boycott Edinburgh nightclubs in order to demonstrate that they are not comfortable going out as long as nightclubs are “enabling spiking”. Since then the conversation has erupted, with the account gaining over 6,000 followers in five days, and the message spreading far and wide to universities all over the UK, as well as national news outlets and even Loose Women.

The account proposes a boycott on Thursday 28th October, suggesting that instead of clubbing, those boycotting can spend their “night in” with flatmates and friends watching movies, enjoying dinner –  and most importantly: not worrying about the risk of being spiked whilst encouraging clubs to take more action to keep their customers safe.

Since launching, the account has grown into a source of information, not for tips to avoid spiking – as girlsnightinedinburgh states that it is not the job of clubbers to prevent themselves from being spiked – but for clubs and bars to learn from and understand, in an attempt to encourage safer practices in the nightlife industry. In addition, followers of the account have begun to come forward and share their experiences of spiking publicly, with some calling out specific clubs and events, and dozens of people regardless of gender sharing their stories about spiking in Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh Tab interviewed Martha Williams – a third year Psychology student at Edi – who set up the account.

What is the main focus of the Girls Night In campaign?

“The main focus of the campaign is to draw attention to the recent dramatic increase in spiking incidents in Edinburgh. We’re boycotting the nightclubs for one night so they pay attention to our concerns for our safety. The goal is for nightclubs to implement the changes that we put forth in an open letter addressed that was based on suggestions from our followers.”

What actions do you think clubs can take to improve safety for customers? 

“Actions that clubs can take to improve safety for customers include changes such as: lids on drinks, clear cups, retraining of staff on spiking procedure and drug misuse as well as first aid, better security measures, and clear CCTV. There should be safe spaces in all nightclubs where first aid and support can take place when spiking has occurred. Bar staff and bouncers need to be alert to suspicious activity and sympathetic to those who have been spiked.”

Do you think universities should get involved more in solving this issue?

“I think universities have a responsibility to get involved in solving this issue. They need to provide resources to support their students regarding spiking worries and anxieties and also be there to support people who have experienced spiking or other incidents of that nature.

“Universities also need to be sure to educate their communities on spiking and the culture around nightclubbing for the sake of their students’ safety and health. Lastly, universities need to back their students within this epidemic and put pressure on nightclubs to ensure their students have a safe environment to enjoy their time at university.”

How do you feel about backlash against the naming of the campaign?

“When we initially came up with the idea for the boycott we didn’t anticipate that it would blow up so quickly or spread all over the country. The name for the campaign is a play on the phrase “girls night out” and was inspired by the fact that spiking incidents in nightclubs do affect girls primarily which is why girls are especially currently feeling fearful of going out.

“Since starting the campaign I have educated myself a lot on spiking culture and data and I now understand that spiking does affect all genders and identities, not just girls. From the very beginning of this movement we have emphasised our inclusivity of absolutely everyone and welcomed people of all genders and identities to join us with enthusiasm. Although I now understand how the name seems exclusive in nature it was never intended to be.”

What have you learned so far from this campaign that you were unaware of before?

“As I’ve created a platform with a large following it’s really important to be educated about the topics we’re addressing because having a big audience comes with a big responsibility to make sure we’re putting out accurate and helpful information. I’ve learnt a lot about spiking in general, I’ve been enlightened about the people it affects and the long-term mental effects of spiking incidents. I’ve also learnt a lot about how to organise movements to incite meaningful change and actually be productive. Hopefully I’ll continue to learn and educate myself and everyone else involved in Girls Night In so we can all come together to spread awareness about spiking.”

How do you feel about how quickly the campaign has grown? Are you surprised at how many people have got involved?

“I think that the reason the campaign has grown so quickly is because this is clearly a pressing issue that is affecting a lot people and places all over the UK. People are passionate and angry about how we have to worry about our safety when we should be having fun, especially because not enough is being done at a systematic level.

“Although the recent phenomenon of spiking by injection has accelerated the risks of spiking, spiking has been an issue for decades and it’s about time something was done about it. It is shocking how many people got involved so quickly but it’s not necessarily surprising because because it makes sense that everyone is upset and ready to fight and speak out against this epidemic and the lack of action being taken.”

The Girls’ Night In boycott will be happening on Thursday 28th October and you can stay up-to-date with the campaign @GirlsNightInEdinburgh

Recommended related articles by this writer

 We asked Edinburgh clubs what their spiking policies and procedures are

• Yes, spiking is a problem, but giving more power to bouncers is not the answer

• Edi Uni FemSoc has organised a march against clubs in response to numerous spiking claims