After a relaxing Independent Learning Week a few weeks ago, crowds of students have geared up to reunite with friends under the strobing lights of 601, ushering in the season of All Souls. Yet, according to recent reports, ghosts and ghouls are not the scariest things wandering the streets of St. Andrews.
Police Scotland are currently investigating a number of claims from individuals who were spiked on nights out, many through injections. The reports come from across many of Scotland’s major cities and towns, yet the police have not found any connection between these cases. The rise in drink-spiking has caught the attention of Scotland’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who is urging the police force for updates on their investigations.
A handful of women spending a night out have reported losing track of time and waking up feeling abnormally unwell. These reactions left many women bedridden and immobile for days, the symptoms going well beyond the signs of the common hangover. Yet, what is even more alarming is the discovery of “small puncture wounds” on arms and legs following the incidents.
Scottish nightclubs now face boycotts over the news of drink-spiking via injections. The “Girls’ Night In” campaign was launched by a University of Edinburgh student to raise awareness for the rise in drink-spiking in the UK. The campaign organized a boycott of all major party venues and clubs on Thursday, October 28. “Girls’ Night In” hoped to pressure nightclubs to take the issue seriously and install safety measures and guidelines to inhibit any further drink-spiking attempts.
The national trend has not escaped St. Andrews, where many are attempting to install further safety measures in campus bars and clubs. The Students’ Association has announced that additional training on spiking will be given to their Customer Safety Team who will be performing random bag searches from now on. The Union will also be introducing methods to test unattended drinks. Furthermore, the Students Association highlighted their support of the St. Andrews’ Feminist Society’s and Got Consent’s joint “Big Night In” event. Like the “Girls’ Night In” campaign, “Big Night In” boycotted all party venues on Wednesday, October 27. The town hall took place at the Students’ Association followed by a sit-in in 601. The list of demands urges all pubs, bars, and clubs throughout St. Andrew to increase security and prevention, and provide further training for their staff members. The boycott also demanded a new “zero-tolerance policy” (one in which is already in place at the Union), entailing those caught and proven to have spiked to be banned from the venue. The list continues to ask that if the events in which a spiking case occurs are put on by a Society, then this will warrant a referral of the person caught spiking to the society and university, as well as a ban.
According to Assistant Chief Constable Judi Heaton of Police Scotland, cases in spiking take a “notable increase in October and November.” Whatever comes from these new initiatives aiming to end these attempts to make women feel vulnerable and violated, it is especially clear that within these coming months, girls’ carefree nights out will be a little less “carefree.” Vigilance is now and has always been, as common a component in a women’s company as her phone or wallet. Many are left fearful and frustrated wondering when exactly “a fun night out” will not involve watching one’s drink or signs of a needle in the lowlights of a crowded bar.