- National Sexual Health Week: Staying Safe in Freshers’ Week
This year, National Sexual Health Week falls over the 24th-30th of September, our Freshers’ week, and it is hard to find a week more pertinent for these two events to coincide. Freshers is a time for freedom, homesickness, excitement, and everything in between – something a lot of people take advantage of, and rightly so. However, staying safe in Freshers is just as important as having a good time!
It’s a fun and immersive experience designed to help you get to know your flatmates – take advantage of this! Get your new flatmates’ phone numbers, set up a WhatsApp group chat, and make sure that everyone gets home safely. Memorise your bus route home and note down any key codes for the doors in your phone! (I’ve been burnt before). Your Fresher’s Reps will be around to help so, when in doubt, talk to one of them and they’ll be able to get you back to your halls.
It is also a bold but safe idea for anyone expecting (or hoping) for sexual activity to carry condoms on nights out – no one wants a visit to the University Health Service this early on in the year! That will be a nickname you’ll never live down. The University Health Service is open weekdays 8:00am-5:30pm, so if you do think anything is wrong, don’t hesitate to book an appointment! You can even do it online and avoid the awkward phone call: http://www.unidocs.co.uk/.
The theme of this year’s National Sexual Health Week is consent; a widely-debated topic at a time of multiple celebrity sexual assault cases, which I’m sure don’t need expanding on. And yet, it is event that we still feel uncomfortable talking about it, or defining it. Consent can sometimes be seen as a bit of a blurred line, so here are some guidelines as how to define sexual consent, originally provided by FPA:
#SexualHealthWeek2018 runs from 24-30 September, & this year’s theme is consent: a topic that underpins all work on sexual health & wellbeing, for both health & education professionals. For more information follow @FPACharity or visit: https://t.co/KbRBgXshhg pic.twitter.com/wZUXkFxqYS
— Community Directory (@ShropInfo) September 24, 2018
If you are ever in doubt that your partner can’t properly consent – be it that they seem unsure, or too intoxicated – it is absolutely best to make sure they get home safely, by either finding their friends or getting them into a taxi.
However, not every situation (or everyone) adheres to a handy traffic light system. If you or your friend is ever in a situation that doesn’t feel consensual, here are some options to keep safe:
- If possible, remove yourself/your friend from the situation. There’s no harm, no foul, in prioritising your safety.
- If you feel you can’t get out without assistance, consult the ‘Ask for Angela’ program. Pubs and clubs, including Southampton’s Stags, have initiatives in place where you can go up to a member of staff and discreetly ask for Angela, where they will be able to call a taxi and get you out of that situation safely.
- Report whoever is making you feel unsafe to a bouncer or member of staff – they are there to keep you safe!
- If you feel immediately threatened, don’t hesitate to call 999. You can do this very quickly (and subtly) by pressing the on/off button five times if you have an iPhone. Then you slide the SOS on the screen and the emergency services will be called and alerted of your location.
There are also multiple fail-safes in place if you feel you don’t have the money to get home, and away from a situation. The SUSU Safety Bus runs every night from Building 42 on Highfield Campus, and for £1.50 will take you straight to your door. Radio Taxis will also accept your student ID card as a deposit for your journey if you don’t have any cash – just quote ‘Student Taxi Scheme’. Never feel trapped in a situation – there are lots of options, as well as the people around you, to help you.
We should celebrate the sexual freedom which is slowly becoming accepted in our lifetime, but it should be safe and consensual. Go out if you want to, have a fantastic time, and get home safely!
Important University Phone Numbers:
- First Support – Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm – 023 8059 7488.
- SUSU Advice Centre – Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; 023 8059 2085.
- Nightline – Mon-Sun 8pm-8am; 023 8059 5236.