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A campaign started on social media demands that clubs do better for student safety - this is not only necessary, but long overdue.

In light of the recent rise in spiking incidents, especially by injection, numerous cities across the UK, including Glasgow, are boycotting nightclubs on Thursday 28 October to demand that venues take people’s safety more seriously. Once again, our human right to feel safe has been undermined by a misogynistic culture of male violence, which Big Night In aims to address. Previously named Girls Night In, this national, student-led campaign wrote on Instagram that it “hopes to bring attention to just how urgently this issue needs to be dealt with”, emphasising that “enough is enough”. 

On social media, the movement has sparked an ongoing public discussion about staying safe on a night out: What duty do nightclubs have to ensure the wellbeing of club-goers? In what ways can governments better protect their citizens from such appalling crimes? How can we, as a community, do better?

Big Night In is calling for the implementation of various safety measures at nightclubs, such as the free provision of drink covers, which a number of Glasgow venues - including Tingle and Kilts & Kocktails - have now begun to offer. Hospitality venues must ensure that their staff regularly undergo extensive welfare and first-aid training in order to recognise symptoms of spiking and effectively support victims. In addition to advocating for the establishment of safe spaces, the Big Night In campaign urges nightclubs to implement strict zero-tolerance policies and record such violations in order to identify patterns of predatory behaviour. These demands seem like basic necessities, but they are currently not being met. 

The social media movement has also compelled us to engage with important conversations about white, cishet privilege within feminism. For instance, a widely-circulated petition by former Glasgow student Hannah Thomson urging the UK government to “make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry” has received over 170,000 signatures so far - but has also prompted backlash. Due to the disproportionately negative impact of racial profiling on marginalised POC groups, Big Night In Glasgow announced last week that it is no longer calling for increased CCTV surveillance or guest searches. Furthermore, in an effort to improve the boycott’s intersectionality, the campaign has adopted a more inclusive name, with the intention of embracing the experiences of all genders. Not only does this move aim to further validate the experiences of non-binary individuals and the LGBTQ+ community, but it also creates a united approach to fighting for our universal right of feeling safe.

It’s imperative that governments urgently take action on this concerning matter, as emphasized by Kaukab Stewart, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, who told The Glasgow Guardian: “the onus [of addressing the rise of spiking incidents] is actually on the institutions; […] the onus is on the decision-makers, people like myself.” She added that the Scottish Parliament is likely to debate the topic in the upcoming week, reiterating the importance of progressive legislation reform. Referring to Scottish Hate Crime bill passed in April 2021, Anas Sarwar, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, recently asserted: “We didn’t include the largest hate crime, which is sexism and misogyny, […] which I think is an absolute failure and I think that’s something that should be corrected immediately.” Despite these politicians’ well-intended comments on the worrisome spiking situation, we must continue to apply pressure to governments until meaningful change is officially enforced; words are not enough. 

While Big Night In has provided people with a platform to anonymously share their experiences with spiking and critically shed light on this paramount issue, it is now our responsibility to continue striving towards creating systemic change. Long-term change can only be achieved by dismantling our society’s ingrained culture of male violence and victim-blaming. Following an outpouring of support from a wide range of UofG societies, such as GUU and QMU, Big Night In gained significant momentum in Glasgow - we must foster and uphold this supportive environment for survivors. It’s extremely important that universities actively support this campaign, especially since one in 13 students are victims of spiking. This is not just the responsibility of large clubs, but a responsibility of the University, too. 

Men must also do better and become active bystanders within their communities, in addition to fully addressing the fault of the perpetrator, rather than the victim. As the campaign wrote on Instagram: “For too long women, people of colour and so many other communities have been afraid of going to nightclubs or walking on the streets alone.” The large amount of support in Glasgow indicates that those in a place of privilege will start to question what they can do to support the safety of others. 

Big Night In is encouraging everyone to stay in tonight to raise awareness about the threat to our safety, and demand much-needed action now. Whether you’ll be spending the evening by hosting a Halloween-themed movie night with friends, treating yourself to a much-needed evening of self-care, or simply catching up on uni work, I hope you know that you’re not alone. 

Follow Big Night In Glasgow on Instagram @bignightin_glasgow


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