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This fresher is organising strobe-free nights at the SU for students with photosensitive epilepsy

‘I wanted it to be a night that was open to everyone’


Ana Patterson, a first year Drama and English student at Royal Holloway, has organised five strobe free nights at the SU for the benefit of students who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy.

People with photosensitive epilepsy can have seizures if they look at flashing, flickering or strobe lighting. Only about three in 100 people with epilepsy suffer form this, but as many club nights use strobe lighting, people with photosensitive epilepsy are limited in what they can attend.

Ana, who also suffers from the condition, posted on the Bright Ideas page on the SU website, where students can post suggestions and up or down vote other students' suggestions. Following the success of her post, she wrote an email to the SU. Ana eventually spoke to SU reps, the Head of Trading Services, and SU lighting technicians. There will now be five strobe free SU nights this term, and a motion to have a strobe free club night twice a month.

strobe free

Royal Holloway's first strobe-free SU for people with photosensitive epilepsy – made possible by a fresher!

Posted by The Tab Royal Holloway on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Speaking to The Tab Royal Holloway, Ana said: "These strobe free nights will make it so much safer for people with photosensitive epilepsy to come and enjoy themselves at the SU. I wanted it to be a night that was open to everyone and really reinforced the whole ‘freedom’ aspect that comes with the clubbing atmosphere.

"I’ve actually had people come up to me and tell me that even though they didn’t have epilepsy, they were still really grateful for a night without strobes as it can get a bit uncomfortable for them and they can’t have as much of a good time. I’m really happy that I can make a difference to everyone, not just people with epilepsy.

"I hope to keep doing this each term, having a few nights a term free of strobe effects. I do understand that it isn’t always possible with acts who come from outside the university but even just these five nights are a massive triumph for me."

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Ana's post on Overheard at Royal Holloway

Ana continued: "I posted about this on ‘Overheard at Royal Holloway’ and the post has currently got over 250 likes in less than 24 hours. I’ve received some really uplifting messages from people who have been wanting to bring their epileptic friends out for ages but haven’t had the chance."

The first strobe free night was at Toast on Monday. The four other strobe free nights will be 80s vs 90s vs 00s on January 23rd, Rainbow Rave on January 31st, Insanity Takeover on February 15th and Come in Your Socs on February 27th.