Content warning: sexual, gender-based violence and drink spiking.
Whilst the novelty of a new term is now wearing off, Durham seems to have been marked with change the last few days; it started with the leaves turning amber, continued with the first frost of the year making its icy debut and, for me at least, ended with the realisation that I’ll be graduating in less than nine months.
These kinds of changes are, of course, inevitable – but what about the changes we critically need? For what isn’t the first time this week, I can’t help but think of the tragic deaths of Sabina Nessa, Sarah Everard and the countless other victims of gender-based and sexual violence. I increasingly find myself wondering: what really has changed? The answer to this: very little. A recent increase in drink spiking around Durham reflects as much, and conversations with friends – even strangers – have turned to fears for our safety; from only purchasing bottled drinks and getting taxis home, to the all-too-familiar “are you back safe?” text, it’s something that far too many of us have experienced. It goes without saying that we should never have to change the way we live in order to be safe, however in a world where so little seems to be changing, it can feel as though we are left with little choice. This is only ever exacerbated by the culture of victim blaming surrounding incidents of assault, one which this week was perpetuated by the University’s shocking response to the incidents, centred around the hashtag “#dontgetspiked”. I like to think that in a few years’ time, the go-to response will be “stop spiking people”, but until radical and systemic change is actively implemented, I cannot say that I am overly optimistic.
So, change is a difficult one. The changes we don’t want often happen regardless, and those we so desperately need seem to come about painstakingly slowly. With that, here are my editor’s picks for the week. Some of the following articles are linked to the theme of change, whilst others can hopefully serve as some form of respite from recent events.
1. Durham’s stance on spiking: victim-blaming at its finest by Livia Dove-Woods
2. Review: Sex Education Series 3 by Melissa Rumbold
3. Books to read in the heat of summer by Manon Sintes
4. The plight of Afghanistan’s women by Anna Murphy
5. Amber Run gig review by Hannah Davies