Students at the University of Warwick organised a boycott of all clubs in Coventry and Leamington titled ‘Girls’ Night In’.
The protest, which took place across two nights on 27 and 28 October, was announced after the reports of spiking which have flooded social media over the last few weeks.
The name of the protest, according to the Girls’ Night In Warwick social media account, is a play on the commonly-used phrase “girls’ night out”. However, instead of going out with friends, the protest encourages everyone to stay at home in solidarity with those who have been victims of spiking, and to show venues that many have been deeply affected by this issue.
Girls’ Night In Warwick emphasised the reasons why Warwick students should participate in this nationwide campaign: “Spiking has become an epidemic. Never before have we heard of so many students waking up with no memory of what had happened the night before.
“This is not getting ‘black-out drunk’ – this is getting drugged, and is something that can be changed.
“We are asking clubs and bars to increase their entry security.
“We are asking clubs and bars to provide free drink protection devices (drink divers, etc).
“They are not responding to our complaints, so we must make them”
– Girls Night In Warwick
“We are asking clubs and bars to provide a clear and obvious medical centre and a safe way to get home.
“This is NOT a stay at home message.
“This is asking our students to protest against the clubs and bars.
“They are not responding to our complaints, so we must make them.”
Nationally, Girls’ Night In are demanding that every club has a designated and easily identifiable welfare officer in attendance at the venue. They are also encouraging a more widespread use of Active Bystander training, and for it to be made compulsory for all nightclub staff.
Further to this, Girls’ Night In are calling for increased welfare to ensure individuals have a safe way home. This would involve intervening “in cases of sexual harassment, being able to identify what spiking looks like or what a victim looks like, [and] being able to identify and intervene in hate crimes.”
Warwick Students’ Union (SU), illustrating their solidarity with the boycott, chose to call off Week 4 POP!. In a statement, they said: “Warwick fully supports the Girls’ Night In protest planned for next week following increased reports of drink-spiking at venues on and off campus. We stand in solidarity with their cause, and will be closing our Copper Rooms and Terrace Bar venues from 6pm on Wednesday 27 October.
“Further to the decision made to close on Wednesday, we have also met with representatives from It Happens Here Warwick and Protect Warwick Women [PWW].
“We believe that closing on the night of our biggest event, POP!, underlines our total commitment to stamping out the deplorable incidents of drink-spiking nationally”
– Warwick SU
“We believe that closing on the night of our biggest event, POP!, underlines our total commitment to stamping out the deplorable incidents of drink-spiking nationally.”
PWW, who organised an occupation of campus to draw attention to women’s safety at Warwick in the last academic year, are also standing in solidarity with the protest. In a statement, they said: “It’s time for clubs and bars to take responsibility for the role they play in spiking, groping, and harassment in clubs, and take action to ensure they are providing a safe environment, and to sensitively and effectively help people who have been spiked or harassed in the club.”
The Boar also reached out to Warwick Anti-Sexism Society, who said: “WASS supports the Girls’ Night In boycotts happening this week, as their demands look for solutions to spiking that centre survivors and do not come at the expense of extra surveillance, which can really harm trans people and people of colour.
“Along with the SU women’s officers, we’ve drafted a motion for the All Student Vote which will implement anti-spiking measures at SU venues.
“We’re also liaising with a local MP to push for measures to be introduced on a wider scale, beyond the scope of the University.”
Matt Western, MP for Leamington and Warwick, addressed the issue of spiking on his social media. He commented: “Cases of spiking by injection are absolutely sickening – and have set the spotlight on yet another disgraceful feature of male violence and misogyny.
“There are horrific reports in my own constituency, and I’ve heard from people in the nightlife industry that security just isn’t tight enough.
“Solidarity with women at universities around the country who are boycotting clubs and nightlife venues.
“The thought that these men may then be allowed to continue their studies after being found to have spiked someone is absolutely unacceptable.
“And it is worth reminding that spiking is nothing new for women and vulnerable people. And it must end.”
“The responsibility does not rely on the victim to prevent this from happening to them – it lies solely with the perpetrator”
– University of Warwick
The University of Warwick also issued a statement addressing the recent rise in drink spiking. They commented: “Anyone who believes they have been the victim of spiking in any form should contact the police or seek medical assistance as soon as possible. We would also urge any student who may have been the victim of a spiking – or any other unacceptable behaviour – to contact our Report and Support service so we can assist you. You can report anonymously if preferred.
“The responsibility does not rely on the victim to prevent this from happening to them – it lies solely with the perpetrator. Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our community, and we will support any police efforts to identify anyone involved in any alleged drink spiking offence.”