Drinking is common at universities in the UK, but it is totally acceptable to not drink. You might feel social pressure to participate or test your limits, especially if you are from a country with a higher drinking age, or where alcohol is less common. However, you do not have to drink to have a fun experience. To find out more about having a good night out, with alcohol or not, you can check out StAnd Together's Good Night Out Guide.
Lots of people participate in traditions such as Raisin and May Dip without drinking. The Students' Association and its societies hold lots of non-alcoholic events throughout the year, starting in Freshers' Week. The Wellbeing Subcommittee in particular hosts daytime events, allowing you to meet new people in a relaxed atmosphere.
Things to keep in mind for a safe night out, taken from Party Safe:
- Eat before going out, and try to have water or a soft drink after every alcoholic drink.
- Stay alert, and if you drink, be careful with the amount of alcohol that you consume.
- Make sure someone knows where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you expect to return. Always plan how you are going to get home again.
- Go out with a group, stay with your friends, and look out for one another to make sure you all get home safely.
- Take your phone with you; make sure it's charged.
- Don’t have sex with anyone who is unable to give their consent because they are too drunk, or under the influence of drugs: in Scots Law this is rape.
- Never leave your drink unattended.
The Meeting Room on the middle floor is open every night Club 601 is open. This provides a quiet space away from the busy bars for people to decompress, sit down, take medication, or call their friends on nights out. No outside drinks are allowed in the space, but water is available.
All our venues have CCTV coverage.
The responsibility for spiking lies solely with the perpetrators, however, we have included some advice for students who may want to take further steps to keep themselves (or others) safe and information about the support available for those who’ve experienced spiking.
Drink spiking can happen at any time, no matter who you are with. Drink spiking can be colourless, odourless, and undetectable. If you feel bad unexpectedly, don't just dismiss it as being drunk; make sure that you are safe. Remember it can happen to people of any gender. Again, never leave a drink unattended. If you need to go to the bathroom, there are Union staff who can keep an eye on your drink.
- Never leave your drink unattended and never drink a drink that has been left unattended.
- Only accept drinks you’ve watched being prepared at the bar.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
- Keep an eye on your friends and keep track of where everyone is.
- Don’t sign anyone into the Union who you don’t know.
- Avoid drinking for open communal jugs or bowls (like punch bowls) at parties.
- Be wary if someone buys you a drink and it is not the type of drink you asked for.
- Avoid sharing or swapping drinks.
- The University Night Bus also runs every night offering a safe and easy option to get home. Posters with QR Codes to the night bus times are displayed around our venues.
In the Union, you can get spiking test strips from bar staff or the Customer Safety team. They can also help you use them, if you're not sure how they work.
If your drink has been spiked it is unlikely you will see, smell, or taste any difference. Most drugs take effect within 15-30 minutes and symptoms will usually last for several hours. The effects of spiking vary depending on what you’ve been spiked with. If you start to feel strange, unwell, confused, or more drunk than you should be then you should get help straight away.
If you think you've been spiked
- Speak to the staff in the venue (in our venues our Customer Safety Team) as soon as possible. Don’t leave the venue and try to go home as you might need medical attention and it’s best to stay with first aiders where you are safe.
- In the Union, if possible, give the drink you think has been spiked to staff for testing.
- If you’re at an event like a house party or you begin to feel unwell on your way home, you should stay in a safe place and call 999 and the University Security and Response Team. If you’re outside, try to get to a safe place if you can, like the Union or a nearby hall.
- If you think someone else has been spiked stay with them and seek help. Don't let them leave with someone they don't know or trust. Encourage them not to take any more drugs (including alcohol).
- If it is later or the next day, make sure you keep you or your friend safe from any potential ongoing effects of the drug, like avoiding driving a car or operating machinery.
- Most drugs leave the body within 12-72 hours so it is important to seek medical attention and get tested as soon as possible. If you report to the Police, they may ask for blood and urine samples but you can take a trusted friend with you for support.
- If you think you or someone else has been spiked by a needle:
- Encourage the wound to bleed if possible, ideally by holding it under running water.
- Wash the wound with running water and plenty of soap. Do not scrub or suck the wound.
- Dry the wound and cover it with a waterproof plaster or dressing.
- There’s a small risk of infection from needle sticks so you may need further medical treatment or testing, like post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) or antibiotic treatment. If you haven’t already sought emergency medical attention, call 111 or speak to your GP as soon as possible for advice.
Support is available and you can report spiking incidents for investigation. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for more information.
Ask for Angela
The Students' Association uses Ask for Angela. If you are in an uncomfortable situation, simply ask a bartender for Angela. They can help you out of the area/building and into a taxi without putting you in an unsafe situation.
Whether you are getting unwanted advances from someone, your Tinder date is not who they were online, or any other scenario, Ask for Angela allows you to discreetly remove yourself from the situation.
Consent and sexual assault
See the Sexual health page.
Got Consent runs bystander intervention training. These short, discussion-based workshops teach students about consent, and how to keep each other safe on nights out. This includes tips on safely intervening if you see a situation that could turn into sexual assault. Contact GotConsent@ if you'd like to attend a workshop or get involved.
Emergencies, getting support, and reporting incidents
- You can contact the police for non-emergencies by dialling 101 or visiting the police station on Pipeland Road.
- If you would prefer to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) is a free and confidential way to report any criminal activity.
- The University's Report and Support tool has information about support from the University and action they can take, including with the support of external organisations if needed.
- If you just need to talk, in a casual way or with a professional, see Talk to someone.