Archives for posts with tag: university

During nights out with my friends it has been brought to my attention through talking to them and from two first-hand experiences that going to a nightclub and being a woman equals getting sexually harassed. The way many young women at university who I have bumped into in the toilet, or spoken to in the bar queue discuss this issue is with a sense of resignation, it is to be expected, and is therefore ‘old news’, of course this totally wrong. We should be indignant, up in arms and certainly not complacent! But this is where it gets tricky, as the only real thing you can do in a club if you are groped or smacked on the bottom etc. is report it to the bouncer, who depending on how they feel either kicks the offender out, or does nothing. Leaving us with little option other than telling said person where to go and carrying on with the night.

My first experience of harassment in a club was when a man came up behind me and put his hand under my dress and in between my legs. I was horrified. I felt dirty, violated and mortified. However as the night went on my feelings changed to anger, “how dare he touch me like that without any consent.” With my anger slowly reaching a boiling point I left the club to get some air. As soon as I saw my friends I remember squawking indignantly at them about what had just happened. A few minutes later I had received information that the same man had grabbed one of my friends bums and then just laughed. It was after this night that I decided to find out more.

Having talked about this topic a lot with my flatmates and friends, there is no doubt that a harassment culture exists in Britain’s nightclubs, be it Exeter, London or Manchester, women everywhere are subjected to unwanted advances and verbal abuse. Whilst at home in London one friend had a man try and place his hand into her underwear twice, even after she had yelled at him and another got hit in the face by the man she had just asked to stop grinding on her. The fact that these types of experiences occur regularly and across the country is totally unacceptable, there needs to be a huge drive by club security and police to drive this culture out of clubs and make them spaces that women can enjoy without constantly being in fear of harassment. Sadly until then clubs will continue to be predatory environments, where men can seemingly do as they please and women will continue to feel intimidated and on edge.

reclaim-the-night

Last week my university had a march down one of the main roads in Manchester city centre called Reclaim the Night. The point of it was to raise awareness about rape culture and show the government that us women will not stand for it. The march had particular relevance as sadly the area of Manchester most students live in, including myself has had a record number of sexual attacks on female students in the last few months. Between September and November alone there were 30 attacks and since the beginning of this semester I have heard of at least two more; one of which occurred at eleven thirty in the morning. Shattering the argument of the ignorant that women shouldn’t travel alone at night. This means within the last year the number has doubled and something clearly needs to be done about it.

This is why Reclaim the Night was so important. With over 2000 people marching, armed with glow sticks, placards and yelling feminist chants, the people of Manchester were made well and truly aware that all of womenkind (and the men that attended) wanted their streets to be safe to walk along at all times of day. And that being a women should not increase your likeliness of being raped. My university’s women’s officer rightly described the march as being “like a battleground” and she is right, just saying you are a feminist is unfortunately no longer that effective, we have to harness that and go out there and make a change. All around the world women are being persecuted and we need to be louder about it. For too long women have been cast aside and not listened to, but Manchester’s Reclaim the Night proved this idea wrong. We are here, we exist, we have rights and we will not tolerate being under threat.

I hope that due to the success of this march that there be others that follow to raise awareness on other feminist issues occurring around the world, such as the practice of FGM, young girls being forced into marriages and the lack of rights for trans women. I am incredibly proud of my city and university and I hope it has shown the men who committed these terrible crimes that they are not wanted in society and are a disgrace to their gender. I also hope by writing this piece, women from other countries will gain inspiration to hold similar marches at their university or college to show the world that we are strong and want change now.
Popdunk

When I first started at university last September I was of course convinced that I would be billy-no-mates and navigate my way through student life as a hermit who was all alone. Instead, I acquired three of the coolest people I have ever met as my closest friends. The thing with uni friendships is, you are seeing each other blunder through a somewhat strange period in your life; this kind of half teenager/half adult stage where you’re expected to behave like a fully fledged human but have no idea what the hell you’re supposed to do.

This makes for hilarious times and also testing ones too. We’ve already had an ill-fated, drunken night in A&E, misguided all-nighters before a huge deadline (BIG MISTAKE), cooking disasters and clubbing fails; to name but a few. They have already seen me at my worst and helped me through some crappy times in a way I didn’t think was possible when we’ve only known each other seven months. Whether or not this is just pure luck and that by some fluke I have come across the best people in the world, or whether it’s because they’re more rounded and more equipped to deal with life, who knows. Either way I don’t what would have happened without them.

Never in a million years did I think I’d find three other people who not only share my deep love of 80s music but also have the same sense of humour and same passion for, in one of their words “all the foods”. I really did not envisage my life as a student to consist of several nights a week sat in one of their rooms watching rubbish horror films, eating too many white chocolate and raspberry cookies, listening to Absolute 80s radio and mourning the fact that we missed such a glorious decade. But I’m so glad that’s how it has turned out.

You see what makes our friendship group even great is although we have a clump of shared interests; we are all very different people personality wise, which makes us compliment each other very well. So for example myself and one the other are incredibly awkward in most situations, so the most chill member of the group now does things like walks into the room first without even asking. She just knows to do it. We all have very different styles fashion-wise. I go for more of a grunge/early series Monica in Friends look. Whereas the others range from always in dresses, is big on her bright eye shadows and always wears Air Max, to oversized shirts, crop tops and massive hoop earrings, to “normcore” with a touch of glitter. This is great for going out as I must say I am very heavy on my daywear and somewhat lacking in terms of clubbing attire.

What I am grateful for the most though, is that with them I can truly be myself, nothing is “tragic” or “weird” with them. I don’t need to do things like hide my love of Meat Loaf. I mean yes they took the mick out of me but not in a nasty or judgemental way, merely because they clearly do not understand how much of a banger Bat Out of Hell is.

We’re an odd bunch of people who somehow found each other in those trepidatious first few weeks at university and bonded over Duran Duran and the TV show Absolutely Fabulous. Something that I will always be happy occurred.
Popdunk

Yesterday and today my university has been running the “Time to Talk” campaign in the students union. Throughout the days they have been releasing blog posts written by people with mental health problems and also giving out support to those who need it. These aspects of the campaign are useful as they allow us sufferers to express their issues in their own words, rather than having someone dictate what it is like with a particular issue and also informs sufferers of how to get help so they can get support they need more easily.

However, the rest of this campaign leaves a somewhat unpleasant taste in my mouth. The stall in my Students Union and posters of other stalls from around the country are all daubed in flowers and smiley faces and smothered across my universities one is “come and have a chat and some cake,” “free cake here,” “cupcakes,” “be happy” etc. All of this in my opinion is rather tiresome and mildly patronising, implying that we need to be lured in with promises of smiley faces and free food. As if we are wild animals that need to be caught. The presentation of the stalls also ironically promotes the idea that we are all unhappy all of the time, need to be loved and have a person show kindness towards us, which is exactly the kind of stereotype they are attempting to change and combat. People with mental health conditions do not have a set symptom, we are not autonomous and as someone who suffers from severe depression I am not constantly in need of a hug and some kind words.  This approach of kittens and cuteness also somewhat dumbs the issue down and hides the true nature of how terrible life with a mental health can be. It is not a fluffy topic so presenting it as one does not help in the slightest, if anything it trivialises it.

Instead I feel that this campaign would be much more educational and actually of some help if there was a day where people could gather in-depth information about each illness, thus educating people and allowing them to spot warning signs in friends or relatives. And also to make the day more about the people who actually suffer from said illnesses rather than emphasising how great it is that non-sufferers are reaching out to us and giving themselves a metaphorical gold star.

All in all, in my opinion the “Time to Talk” campaign has good intentions but is currently not being implemented in the most effective or tactful way. Instead, it just makes me even feel more isolated and “different”  compared to everyone else.

Having just experienced my first exam season at university, I have just gone through one of the tougher times in my life. I have fluctuating anxiety disorder and one thing that causes it to flare up hideously is exams. As soon as I began to revise over Christmas a niggling part of me knew that history was going to repeat itself when I got into the exam room. You see I have a history of getting sat down with the paper in front of me and freezing up. The anxiety induced panic attack leads me to have a complete and utter mind blank (handy….nice one brain) and stare dazedly at the paper for the length of the test. This has happened 3 times already and sure enough my brain decided to leave me and I wrote nada.

Now, although it is somewhat of a disaster as I will of course be given an ungraded mark, there is some consolation. My condition along with my depression is on record with the Disability Support Office at my university. This allows me to apply for a mitigating circumstances form and hopefully be given an uncapped retake in the summer. Which is what I want more students who suffer from mental health conditions to be aware of. There is help available if you tell someone. I have had an entire support plan put in place which is tailored to my specific needs. So please don’t struggle in silence. Speak to student services, they will be able to help you. Make them aware of everything, even things that you may think are irrelevant as they will take them into consideration and try to find a solution.

  1. Societies are ridiculously over-hyped. They are made out as the be all and end all of uni life. And that you won’t make any friends without them. NOT TRUE! I attended one society social. And it really wasn’t that great – I have a great set of friends and we all met through lectures and then through one another.
  2. No matter how pumped you are for a topic you will most likely fall asleep in several lectures.
  3. 1 am takeaways are the best type of takeaways. I’m looking at you Dominos
  4. You will lose your student ID card and probably more than once.
  5. It will take several weeks to fully understand your library and its system, no matter how well it is explained to you. YOU’RE NOT ALONE THOUGH
  6.  Be nice to ambulance workers. They listen to your drunken ramblings
  7. The best way to explore your surroundings is on your own. You can focus more and actually go to places YOU want to go. Then you can share with friends and be smug about your finds
  8. Fly posters are the worst
  9. Everyone signs up to too many societies at the freshers fair. And then attends one thing, once.
  10. You will cry in your room more than once. Way after freshers is over.
  11. People who say they are not scared of starting uni are LIARS
  12. All nighters are never a good idea. Ever.
  13.  Clubbing is certainly not the only thing to do at night. Don’t let people tell you you’re boring if you don’t like it.
  14. You will repeatedly forget about food. The discovery will be grim.
  15. Towels need washing too.
  16. Don’t chat to the creepy dude at the bar. Even if it seems impolite. You know his intentions.
  17. Always have some cash on you.
  18. If your flat mates are being too loud. Yell at them. Don’t be afraid to and then not get any sleep.
  19. Don’t pretend to be somebody you’re not, you WILL make friends being you.