YES – Georgia Radley, Liberate The Debate Member  

After a year and a half of being stuck indoors with last year’s freshers never getting the year they expected, students cannot wait to get back to the 10pm pres, the 5 JägerBombs for £5 and the regrettable vomit in (hopefully) the toilet at 4am. As a third-year student myself whom technically only got one full term as a proper student, this is the time when I want to be regretting going out three nights in a row when I should be submitting my dissertation proposal (I’m hoping none of my tutors will read this).  

But in a week when we should be planning our pres, I’ve had too many conversations with people questioning whether they should go out or not. Whether it is worth the risk. Spiking has exploded in the student-focused news, but it always has done. So, we covered our drinks and we never ever left our drinks unattended. Sure, even with all this a disgusting perpetrator could and did still easily slip a pill into our drinks, but we knew our actions at least reduced the risk and we felt safer because of it. But needles? Injections? How are we supposed to feel safe now?  

Going out is terrifying. Needles can be easily hidden, and unlike drinks where you could at least try to always keep them covered, all it takes now is a slight bump into somebody and, oh god, you’ve been injected. Remember, we’re talking about nightclubs here; the whole point of nightclubs is to be constantly bumping into others. Multiple potential solutions (temporary or not) have floated about on social media and newspapers, but one certainly has caused a stir. Should bouncers be given more power? Should bouncers be allowed to pat down everyone who walks into the club, search through all our bags and pockets and potentially use metal detectors on everyone? I say yes! Yes, they should! What really is the harm?  

Over Halloween, I went to Revenge twice. Both times they patted down every guy and thoroughly searched all bags, even taking my phone out of my phone case. Was it violating? Yes. I am sure for ten seconds every guy felt violated by being so thoroughly ‘touched up’ by security. But then they got the all-clear, headed up the stairs, bought a shot on the way in and forgot all about the invasive search. We were violated for ten seconds upon entry, but my god did I feel a strong sense of gratitude because of this (weird, right?). After all the stress, knowing security was being so strict really reassured both me and the people I was with. Honestly, who cares about an invasive search upon entry if it means no one gets injected, drugged and forced into one of the worst nights of their lives?

When it comes to security and safety versus rights of privacy, we must question whether the cost of the loss of some privacy rights is worth the benefit of the security. I say with this issue, it most certainly is! No question about it. I mean, surely? I know, this isn’t a permanent solution, but it isn’t meant to be. We should not have to cover our drinks. We should not have to go through an invasive pat down just to then feel ‘safe’. We should not have to change our ways, behaviours or attitudes because the education system, mental health system, social environments, family structures or whatever social and biological reasons have failed and resulted in disgusting, vile predators taking advantage of us.  

Steps should be made by the government to radically change and improve the education system around consent and mental health services should be extremely well funded to be able to detect predatory behaviours in people before they abuse others. This is a necessity. But this is a long-term goal, as horrible as it is to say this (I honestly wish it wasn’t so), this is something we will not see for a very long time. People will abuse others. They’re evil, but they will continue to do so. As much as we want to refuse to put ourselves through stricter, tighter measures to ensure our safety because of a disgusting few, refusing to cover our drinks and denying bouncers extra power to thoroughly search every person that walks into the club is just a denial of the reality.  

I want to be able to go out and I want to feel safe when I do so. If this means bouncers get extra powers that only really directly affect me as I enter the club, then so be it. I think everyone would choose a ten second pat down over the potential alternative, right?  

NO – Stevie Palmer, Staff Writer

In light of the recent proliferation of predominantly young girls – but also boys -being spiked on nights out, it has been proposed that there should be increased searching of people entering nightclubs, in order to keep more people from falling victim to this spiking epidemic.

This increased searching has been proposed via increasing the power given to bouncers in nightclubs. The proposing side argues that this will help to reduce the number of spikings, as increased searching will lead to more potential spikers getting caught, help women to ‘feel safer’ and deter the spikers through fear of being caught. I simply cannot see how it will play out in such a way. 

It is known that minority groups and marginalised peoples are already the primary victims of arbitrary bouncer force. Whether it be through heavier searching than necessary, or the increased likelihood of entry being denied/removal from the club once in there. Time and time again it has been proven that when increased power is given to those in a position of authority, it has led to the increase in discrimination against those of marginalised backgrounds. As such, I find it hard to fathom how this time will be any different. 

When looking at the idea that increased power will lead to reduction in spiking due to the success rate of bouncers finding the means of spiking and removing it; I ask you, as university students, to think of a time that you tried to get an illicit object, substance or beverage into a nightclub, and have succeeded. I further implore you to think of those times you tried and got caught, and whether you decided, at any other point in time, to try again (be it at the same or different club) – the vast majority of the time, the answer is that it didn’t have that much of an impact. Hence I cannot see how, when your prerogative is something as heinous as spiking, this will have the desired impact. 

Furthermore, it is already known that spiking happens in nightclubs: this is not a new phenomenon. Bouncers are aware and supposedly watching out for it, hence I struggle to see what increased power, without increased education and training, will do. 

As such, instead of increased power, it is better to suggest increased and improved education. Multiple women have stated that upon telling a bouncer or nightclub worker they have been spiked, they have been dismissed as being drunk and subsequently thrown out of the night club: alone, confused and vulnerable to attack. This simply cannot go on. Mandatory education on the signs and symptoms of spiking must be provided for all nightclub workers, alongside the implementation of a protocol to follow once someone has reported a spiking. No longer can the disbelief of young women lead to violence. 

Aside from the spiking itself, I think it is important to put the repeated spiking of predominantly women in the larger context of gender relations. The spiking can and should be viewed as a symptom of this much larger issue surrounding female inequality and the position of women in society. As with all symptoms, unless you deal with the underlying cause at its root, the issue will never go away. 

So many times, the male-dominated, patriarchal driven society has overlooked and underplayed the severity of such underlying issues by selling improvement programmes for the symptoms of such a deep-rooted issue. We have seen in recently with calls for more streetlights to make women feel safer walking alone at night, in the aftermath of increased public sexual harassment, and the tragic death of many women. This is no different. By simply increasing the power bouncers have to ‘make women feel safer’ in nightclubs, the larger issues of why women feel unsafe in the first place, and why women are repeated targets of such malicious male actions is overlooked. 

It is my genuine belief that until gender equality for all genders is addressed, and irreversible de jure and de facto changes are implemented, then simply giving bouncers more rights to search people entering clubs, will not stop the targeted persecution of women. 

As such, despite arguments for the benefits of increasing the powers given to bouncers, it is hard to fathom how, without first increasing education and training, alongside the tackling of deep-rooted gender inequalities which defines our society, violence against women (of which spiking is one example), will stop.

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