A campaign of student nightclub boycotts in response to a wave of spikings across the country has reached Exeter, with an Exeter ‘Girls’ Night In’ declared on Monday 25th. This is alongside a national nightclub boycott on Thursday 28th October.
The Exeter boycott is being organised on the @officialgirlsnightinexeter Instagram page, which at the time of writing, has 2000 followers. The page has published an, ‘Open Letter to the Clubs and Bars of Exeter,’ stating that they have, ‘received many testimonies describing spikings and harassment that have happened in Exeter, in every club and bar.’ They believe that, ‘the onus is not just on clubbers to protect themselves,’ and want clubs to make sure that they have a “defined action plan for if someone has been spiked”.
The boycott comes in the wake of concerns spreading across the Exeter student community regarding the many spikings in nightclubs and bars since the beginning of term. These concerns have been heightened by reports of spiking by injection in clubs all across the country, with an unofficial report of a student being spiked with a needle in Fever and Boutique Nightclub in Exeter.
In response to these concerns, Exeter University sent an email to all students on Thursday 21 October, expressing sympathy for those who have experienced or been affected by spikings. They urge those who think they have experienced an incident of spiking to report the incident to Devon and Cornwall police, “so that they can investigate without delay,” and to make use of the University Wellbeing Service to receive support following the incident.
In a new measure to help protect students, the University has also, “made spiking detection kits available for collection from halls receptions, the Estate Patrol Office in Northcote House, the Ram bar, the Sports Park, and the St Lukes SID desk. These include drink stoppers and passive alarms as well as testing strips.”
Clubs should be doing more to protect their customers from spiking
The leaders of the Sit Down and Shut Up movement, who recently organised a protest against the Exeter Students For Life group, say that this peak in spiking incidents, “re-emphasizes the idea that women will never be safe.” The group are also known for organising a protest against sexual assault on campus last year.
“We have had meetings in regards to the Club boycott which is happening on the 25 of October and are planning for there to be a ‘Big Night In’ on campus.” The group told Exeposé. Details of this are to be confirmed at a later date.
At the time of writing, most nightclubs around Exeter have been silent in response to public concerns. Exeposé spoke to Charlie Kay about a Spiking Awareness Event his group, Safe Night Out Exeter (Instagram @safenightoutexe), plans to run with Unit 1 on the day of the Monday boycott. Their usual Sin Mondays club night is cancelled in response to the Girls’ Night In.
Exact details of the replacement event are yet to be confirmed, but Charlie does think clubs should be doing more to protect their customers from spikings. “I believe there is not enough being done to combat this issue, certainly from the viewpoint of a student in Exeter… We are hopeful that this event will kickstart the conversation between students and clubs, and begin to create a safer, more enjoyable nightlife for Exeter.”
Unit 1 is one of the few Exeter bars or clubs to have put in place a plan to tackle drink spiking. The club is introducing a metal detector security arch, with pat-down search to be used “as required.” Their post about spiking states that their staff are all trained to deal with incidents of spiking, and that they are able to provide anti-spiking bottle stoppers and drink covers.
A University spokesperson said “We are working with the police on their investigation into reports of a suspected assault against a student and urge anyone with information to contact Devon and Cornwall Police. We will support anyone in our community affected by this incident. The safety and welfare of all staff and students is our highest priority and we are working closely with the Student’s Guild, police and the night-time venues around student safety in the community. We would encourage everyone to follow police advice to report any suspicions to them immediately and directly so they can be investigated without delay.”