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Spiking at Guy’s Bar: When Will Students be Safe?

KCL Guy's Bar spiking

A recent resurgence in spiking incidents across King’s campuses, primarily at Guy’s Bar, has reignited student-led efforts to protect members of the community and influence policy changes across the university.

As the year’s second term kicks into full swing, word is circulating among students at KCL that spiking incidents are once again approaching the record high witnessed in autumn last year. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, told Roar that “a few friends have told me about incidents at Guy’s Bar on Wednesday Sports Nights specifically”. Unconfirmed rumours that at least one student may have been spiked during the “Fleet Street Beats” event on January 28th are supported by another anonymous student who told Roar: “My friends also informed me that on the night, when they visited the bathroom at Guy’s Bar, there was a girl in the bathroom feeling unwell and crying. There was security waiting outside the door, too.”

On Instagram, Guy’s Bar urged students to “look after each other” as they “may be more vulnerable” after consuming alcohol. The same posts encourage students to ask staff for help using the “Ask Angela” system, or to request a “drink spike test” from bar staff during events should they feel unsafe.

In a statement made to Roar, the KCLSU said “We are committed to tackling the issue of spiking and provide support for students and staff. This particular incident has not been reported to KCLSU and any reports of spiking and spiking by injection reported to us are fully investigated and perpetrators may face a range of disciplinary measures, as well as Police action where possible.

KCL Guy's Bar spiking instagram post

“Since the increase in reported incidents across the country last Autumn, KCLSU has taken many preventative steps in our venues including increasing security checks and bag searches, providing spike tests, serving drinks in bottles and cans, the prompt removal of unattended glasses and the Ask Angela scheme. KCLSU President Zahra Syed also contacted Southwark Licensing Authority last term in response to concerns of spiking taking place at venues in the local area. All KCLSU venues staff receive WAVE training (Welfare & Vulnerability Engagement), provided by the Metropolitan Police. Together with KCLSU Advice and Support and other key staff, venues staff also receive training on taking a trauma informed approach, provided by The Survivors Trust.

“We remain committed to making our spaces safe, positive and welcoming for everyone and our President is in regular contact with student groups and communities who are making a stand against harassment. We continue to build awareness within our community on the subject and risks of spiking and will soon be sharing a new online hub of resources to help keep everyone safe, including a new complaint and reporting tool. We encourage any students attending any events at KCLSU venues who think their drink has been spiked, to report it to our bar and security staff as soon as possible so they can assist. We also strongly encourage students, where they feel comfortable, to report incidents of this nature to the police so that they can carry out a full criminal investigation.”

In response to the increase in spikings, groups of students have banded together to lobby the College and KCLSU officials for further action. One such group, dubbed the “Stop the Music” Anti-Spiking Campaign, has distributed a letter of intent to society presidents across King’s in support of their proposed measures. These include a policy wherein events would immediately be paused in the case of a reported spiking, the employment of medical professionals across events to ensure student safety, and a logging system for students accompanying “clearly incapacitated” attendees off campus premises. The latter recommendation is intended to “intimidate predators and provide an avenue for the collection of evidence for any person harmed by sexual assault after a spiking incident.”

In conversation with Roar, a representative of “Stop the Music” said they believe College administration must take primary responsibility for the spiking crisis on-campus: “Whilst we believe that KCLSU should improve its transparency to the student body on the actions it has taken to address spiking and sexual assault at KCL nightclubs, we place primary responsibility on KCL for the serious lack of basic safeguards at KCL nightclub events. The lack of vigorous response to the issue is especially devastating considering the concerted efforts made last year to change the way that these venues are run.

“Ultimately, KCL has the final say on the policies we are trying to implement, which is why King’s College London as an institution is the main target of this campaign.”

“So often the discourse around spiking and sexual assault focuses on the personal responsibility of victims. A key goal of this campaign is to change this in favour of a new paradigm in which structural issues are addressed in tandem with a message of collective responsibility. […] As a university we should not just adapt to spiking and sexual assault, but actively combat it.”

When asked what the organisation would tell King’s administration if given the chance, “Stop the Music” told Roar: “We have provided you with a set of pragmatic, cheap, and effective nightclub safeguarding policies that would address the rise of spiking and sexual violence head-on. Implement them. It is simply an unacceptable status quo that students can be spiked, taken out of KCL nightclub events by predators, then raped. We hope to work with you in a spirit of partnership so that together we can set an example for universities nation-wide.”

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