Sexual Assault: How is it dealt with within different organisations?

When people think of sexual assault they often picture it occurring away from the public eye, somewhere hidden, the sexual predator resembling the stereotypical look portrayed in movies such as The Lovely Bones or The Butterfly Effect. However, that is not always the case. When speaking to a member of the organisation, Rape Crisis England and Wales, they highlighted some statistics. ‘Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes every hour. These figures include assaults by penetration and attempts.’ With more and more celebrities and big, public figures having allegations fired at them, it is becoming apparent that the problem is bigger than people initially realised.

A wave of sexual assault allegations has recently swept over both the worlds of show business and politics following multiple women accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault; from inappropriate comments to rape. Many big names have admitted to being sexually abused by Weinstein including Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, and Rose McGowan. These allegations sparked a lot of attention which resulted in ‘#MeToo’ going viral of social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This hashtag was created in order to drawn attention to how many people around us have been victims of sexual assault. The #MeToo campaign was first started by Tarana Burke over 10 years ago. Burke began the campaign after meeting a young girl who admitted to her that she was being sexual abused by her mother’s boyfriend. From that day on Burke promised herself that she would help survivors of sexual assault. When asked about the hashtag she said, ‘On one side, it’s a bold declarative statement that ‘I’m not ashamed’ and ‘I’m not alone.’ On the other side, it’s a statement from survivor to survivor that says, ‘I see you, I hear you, I understand you and I’m here for you or I get it’.’

The way sexual assault is dealt with has many flaws, often victims are too scared to admit to being sexually assaulted due to the fact that they fear nothing will be done to help them. Unfortunately, this is often the reality of the situation. The way sexual assault is dealt with tends to be stricter within institutions such as school and universities, as appose to the scenes of show business and politics.

Although schools and universities are meant to be places of ultimate safety, often sexual assault slips our attention. Although cases of students getting sexually assaulted by teachers do also occur, it has come to the public’s attention that child-on-child sexual assaults at schools are on the rise. According to statistics gathering by The Guardian ‘Almost 30,000 reports of children sexually assaulting other youngsters, including 2,625 alleged attacks on school premises, have been made to police in the last four years.’ Many children have reported sexual assault committed by their fellow class mates that has often been brushed over and excused as playful behaviour. The most that has been done in some cases is the teachers telling the students to stay away or block the student that had assaulted them.

Universities have recently been trying incredibly hard to tackle such behaviour in their organisations as alarm bells have been going off due to the rise in cases of sexual assault.

The University of Essex, for example, provides support for students who may need any sort of help in the circumstances where sexual assault is involved. When spoken to about the issues faced by many universities and similar institutions, Ebba Jannert, the president of the Sexual Awareness Society at the University of Essex explained how the university tackle these issues. “The University is doing a lot of different things to tackle the amount of sexual abuse that has taken place and is currently doing so. Victims can receive support and advice if they want to report the incident, and there is also the Bystander Intervention training happening, which shows how to intervene in case they see any sort of sexual harassment or abuse happening.”

Ebba also explained how difficult it was initiating her society within the university. “One of the main problems I saw when starting up the society is that most of the projects that are going on are targeted towards people who are already aware of the problems and are working against it.”

“The Bystander Intervention Program is a brilliant idea; however, it does not reach out to those who might need it the most and that is definitely a problem.”

The world of show business is full of secrets and cover-ups. The subject of sexual assaults tends to be brought up only when someone big is accused by more than one person, like in the case of Harvey Weinstein. Victims are often too afraid to come out with their allegations due to the fear of their career being affected by doing so. Their claims are also often dismissed due to the amount of power the people they accused have.

Sexual assault ranges and varies from sexual harassment to actual rape. However, people feel as though there is a ‘grey area’ and often do not know where the line is when it comes to what is regarded as sexual assault and what is not.

When asked about the issues revolving around sexual assault in the show business scene/politics compared to school and other such institutions, Ebba explained how she sees the issue, from the point of view of someone who fights to educate people about the issue. “I think the problem exists all over our society. It is something we need to combat in all cultures over the world. I can only really speak for the politics part myself, and even though a lot of the things experienced within politics are very serious, they happen in other places as well. This is why I think we really need to combat the issue on a structural level.”

However, although there are worrying issues surrounding how sexual assault is dealt with in the world of fame, it has improved massively over the years. When speaking to a member of The Survivor’s Trust organisation, they confirmed “Although in some cases people do still find it incredibly difficult to report sexual assault, it has become easier for victims to receive support and recover after traumatic events. Ebba also had an opinion on this issue and said, “I do think a lot of it is thanks to the rise of the feminist movement. The sexual revolution in the late 60’s and 70’s focused a lot on female empowerment and body rights, something that later embraced other sexualities and gender expressions. This has successively made the situation a lot better, even though we still see a massive issue throughout all cultures in our society, something that the #MeToo movement has truly shown throughout the last couple of weeks.”

It has only been recently that this issue has really been brought out into the light for the public to see. The hashtag trend has helped to highlight just how alarming this issue is and how many people around us are affected by this daily. Simply through encouraging education about the matters of consent and sexual abuse and helping victims who just need to be guided back into life after something so traumatic, a difference can be made. This happening also brought out the problem society has with extremely wealthy and powerful individuals believing that due to their power, they can get away with such crimes. The fight against sexual abuse will continue, this time with even more people like Ebba, battling their way to sexual freedom.

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Should Marijuana remain illegal?

Marijuana, otherwise known as Cannabis, has been used by humans for centuries, its beginnings being in places such as Asia. In most cases it wasn’t used the way it is today, it was often made into and used as herbal remedies. The fibre of the Cannabis plant, often referred to as hemp was used to make textiles in America as the plant was quick and easy to grow and served many used in many different forms. The possession and use of the drug was criminalized in the United Kingdom on 28th September 1928 as an addition to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920 due to the alleged dangers that it posed on people the smoked it recreationally.

Throughout the history of Cannabis use there has always been an argument between whether ‘weed’ has more pros or cons. Although the arguments highlighting the consequences of the use of Marijuana remain to this day, plus additional ones that have be brought up within the recent years, for example, smoking weed is said to increase the probability of the user developing Schizophrenia and psychosis and can also lead to users slacking in social skills and may lead to pregnancy issues in the future.

However, it has been brought up that many of the studies conducted in order to test the effects of weed are often not conducted well enough and the scale of them isn’t big enough to gather accurate and reliable results. This makes it difficult to establishes whether the information gathered about the drug is completely accurate. This gives more space for people fighting for the legalization of Marijuana to fight their point and show the world it has medical properties that can often be more effective than many types of medication.

Although in many places around the world Marijuana is strictly illegal and highly frowned upon, some places have started loosening their grip and appreciating the medicinal benefits of the drug. Since the 1990s, 28 states in America have changed their laws regarding the medicinal use of Marijuana, making it legal.

Due to the research done regarding the benefits of Marijuana, and just from the accounts given by users of the drug, it has been established that Marijuana is able to ease symptoms of chronic pain, muscle stiffness and Arthritis. It can also be used by women that experience extremely severe menstrual pains in order to get relief. There is also proof that it can ease the intensity of epileptic seizures and other types of seizures. It can also be used for patients with Tourette’s. Weed is fought for in this day and age due to the fact that people now often turn to opioid treatment of pain which is a lot more harmful to their bodies.

It is also proven that Marijuana can fight the negative effects caused by Chemotherapy in cancer patients. It can ease symptoms such as nausea and vomiting which can be extremely helpful in cases when patients live in constant pain due to the illness. It can help people who don’t have long left in this world to not spend their final weeks in pain.

Marijuana can also help people suffering with sleep related problems and disorders. Due to its calming properties, especially if the Indica strain of Marijuana is used as this type of the drug is more sedating and causes the well known “stoned” effect. It can also help patients suffering with eating disorders, especially ones where the patient lacks appetite, to regulate eating patterns and encourage eating.

For me, the most important benefit of the use of marijuana is its benefits in the field of mental health disorders. Marijuana can be highly effective when dealing with anxiety disorders and panic attacks as it instantly sedates and calms. This can prevent people from harming themselves and others around them. It also works well for people with depression and PTSD as it calms rushing thoughts and often blocks out negative, intrusive thoughts that sufferers of these illnesses often experience.

Although the way the drug is taken in today’s world isn’t ideal, the only way for it be consumed in a safe and purely medicinal way would be to legalize it and make it controlled. In this way people will not smoke more than is recommended for them and will take the drug in a way that will least harm their body. Even though people are fighting for it and thousands of petitions have been made and signed, there has not been much change and it doesn’t seem like something that is likely to happen any time soon.

 

 

Tribute to Student Who Took Her Own Life.

Hannah Webster, 20, triggered a nation-wide hunt after disappearing from her home in Colchester on Thursday. The news of her disappearance quickly spread across Twitter and Facebook where people that knew her desperately appealed for help from anyone they possibly could.

Hannah studied finance at the University of Essex and was well known from her involvement in many of the sports teams at the university.

She was a very likeable character and was involved with the LGBT groups at the university also. Her friends described her as “gentle, loving and funny”, and “a presence that was soothing”.

After a large hunt sparked by the fact that Hannah was “vulnerable and suicidal”, the search was suspended due to the discovery of a woman’s body in a wooded area near a cycle route between East Hill and The Hythe. The body was confirmed to be Hannah’s.

The university released a statement to all the students explaining the situation. “It is with great sadness that we inform you the search for missing student Hannah Webster has been suspended following the discovery of a women’s body in Colchester. The death is not being treated as suspicious by Essex Police.” They also offered emotional support for anyone affected by the tragedy.

In an interview with one of Hannah’s closest friends, Alice Corby, I got a bit more insight into Hannah as a person and what led her to committing suicide.

When asked what Hannah was like, Alice smiled and said “Well, Hannah was just a beautiful person, she was really sunny and kind of goofy. She had a strong Yorkshire accent that made up a lot of her charm.”

She also mentioned that Hannah “was quite into sports”, and “had a motorbike, which was her pride and joy.” This was quite heart-warming, in contrast to the sadness that led her to taking such drastic actions. It shows how a person with so much warmth and passion can be completely broken down by mental illness.

Alice also told me that Hannah had struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder that caused her to suffer every day. “The symptoms that affected her most were the anger, abandonment issues and chronic emptiness.”

Due to this disorder, she often destroyed a lot of her possessions and often got into violent situations. She didn’t have the best relationship with her partner either and broke up with her a few days prior to her death, which Alice believed, may have been a contributing factor to snowball effect that dragged Hannah down.

Her relationship with her partner and parents was often toxic, leaving her feeling lonely and empty, which she often told Alice about. She told her that she couldn’t cope with life any longer and that she was progressively getting worse. Without any solid help for her mental health issues, Hannah felt defeated.

Hannah texted Alice on the day of her death telling her that she is getting help and doing better, when in reality, an hour after sending the text she left her home to never come back. “I think it goes to show how amazing Hannah was. Even when she was in such a state that she wanted it all to end, she was still thinking of others and she could make it easier for them.”

People with mental health problems are all around, we just have to open our eyes and see just how devastating the effects of mental illness really can be. Within society today, I believe that the stigma around mental illness is incredibly high and the only way to defeat that is to educate people and improve understanding of mental illnesses such as BPD.

Hannah’s story shows how a person can go from being able to cope with the symptoms of their mental illnesses to being completely stripped off the crutches that held them up and kept them balanced and stable in what seems like a blink of an eye. It makes us realise that we all need to look out for each other and spot signs that many avoid future tragedies.

There is always a way out, even if you don’t have the best relationship with your family, there are people who struggle just the same as you, people you can talk to and relate to. There are many units of support that can guide you through tough times. Don’t be afraid to seek help and ask for it wherever you can, there is nothing wrong with not feeling fine.

If you are struggling or need any advice or guidance or are feeling suicidal, here are some helpline that can be accessed:

  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.

“We needed some trained mental health workers to work with us but they weren’t there to do that… We were let down by everybody…”

Pippa McManus was just a normal girl, until she hit age 12 and started getting incredibly self-conscious about herself, her weight in particular. She began starving herself; this is when the obsession became really problematic and developed into anorexia.

At the age of 15 Pippa weighed a shocking 25kg, this is when she got admitted to The Priory Hospital in Altrincham in September 2014. The hospital discharged her after only a year, in December 2015 which her parents disagreed with as they knew their daughter hadn’t yet fully recovered from her illness. Five days after being released the 15-year-old stepped in front of a train, taking her own life. This was the result of a family argument about her exercising too much after which the teenager said “I’m going to kill myself now”, and left the house headed for Gatley Station.

Pippa’s death was determined to be a suicide and the care establishment that she got her treatment at got criticised for releasing the teen even though there was an incredibly high risk of suicide.

The girl’s parents claimed that Pippa had been fighting depression, anxiety, anorexia and self-harm for years and it was a nightmare because most of the time her mental illnesses were more powerful than her, often not letting her eat. She was also said to hate herself and wouldn’t allow anyone to tell her otherwise.

Although the teen was really determined to get her life back on track, anorexia always knocked her back down to rock bottom. The hospital described her anorexia as one of the worst case they had ever seen. She had a history of self-harm and on several occasions wrote suicide notes to her parents, friends and the hospital she was staying at.

Her parents were distraught by the fact that the mental health system would fail to appreciate how vulnerable their daughter was before they discharged her. This caused her to no longer be around professionals that could help her through any difficulties she may have been experiencing. This shows severe flaws within the mental health support system which could result in more tragedies such as this one if more care isn’t taken and miscommunication between victims of mental illnesses families’ and doctors continues.

The hospital director, Paula Stanford, expressed her sympathies for the family of the teenager, saying that they will carefully consider the findings of the jury.

Helpline and Websites:

  • Dedicated eating disorder charity: B-eat (Beat Eating Disorders) Helpline: 0808 801 0677.
  • Youthline: 0808 801 0711.
  • National Centre for Eating Disorders Helpline: 0845 838 2040 eating-disorders.org.uk
  • SEED (an eating disorder support service) Helpline: 01482 718130.
  • The Mix Provides essential support for the under 25s. Helpline: 0808 808 4994.
  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

 

 

 

A Ride From Hell?

Warning: this review contains spoilers of the ride.

After months of anticipation for what was said to be an experience that is meant to ‘derail your mind’ and bring you into a whole different world, I finally decided to go to Surrey’s world famous amusement park, Thorpe Park, to test it out myself and see just how terrifying the Derren Brown Ghost Train actually is. On the 12th April I set off to Thorpe Park with my best friend Jarod (no way I was going to go on my own – rides always scare me a bit, but having to experience the Ghost Train, I did not want to be alone).

The Derren Brown Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon was opened on March 31st 2017 following the opening of the original version of the ride on July 8th 2016. The ride is a combination of virtual reality, motion stimulation and illusions. The ride includes VR headsets that are worn through most of the ride and are described as ‘gas masks’ to maintain the eerie atmosphere of the ride. When you begin queuing for the ride your view is of a Victorian-style train station covered in posters against fracking. About half way through the queue you are asked to come into a little booth where you and your friends get given a ‘train ticket’ and are allowed to take a picture where your face are up against what looks like a steamy train window. After which there was even more queuing (this was unexpected but predictable on such a busy day).

The wait seemed like a lifetime, as most queues in Thorpe Park do, but when we finally got to what looked like the entrance to the ride, we almost cheered in relief…but also started to feel ridiculously nervous as it suddenly hit us that we were about to enter something we knew barely anything about, we didn’t know what to expect.

The door opened and a man dressed in Victorian clothing stepped out and invited us through. The space inside was almost pitch black, almost so dark that it felt suffocating, with the fear I already felt I found myself almost gasping for air. We were told to gather up and all huddle together and keep quiet. Suddenly, a projection of Derren Brown, the master of deception and illusion himself, appeared in front of us. He explained to us what fear is and what effects it has on your body, for example, the fight-or-flight response. He also explained why people enjoy being scared and why the things that scare us actually scare us. This was all very difficult to concentrate on as the anticipation and sinister atmosphere of the place kept my mind occupied with imagining what could be beyond this point; I could feel my hands getting sweaty.

We were then led through a door where we finally got to see the train we would be boarding. The mirror illusion under the train carriage made it seem as though the train was being held up in mid-air by chains which is pretty impressive, you could already see the illusionistic nature of the ride and the little sprinkle of Derren’s charm in every aspect of the experience.  We boarded the train and were instructed to sit down in the carriage that resembled the inside of a modern London tube carriage.

The VR video started on our headsets and everything at first seemed normal, although in the VR, no one else was on the train around you, I had to hold my friend’s hand throughout it just to know that there were actually still people there. Suddenly, the VR showed a man getting on the train with his dog and he starts speaking to you, telling you about a disease and the ‘infected ones’ that are out there, the train starts moving and the carriage actually moves like a real train would, making the experience even more realistic. Out of nowhere the train shudders and all the lights go out; this is when the fun starts. Not much happens in this part of the VR although there is enough to freak you out. You see several ‘infected’ people and as they reach out for you, something actually touches you, which definitely gave me Goosebumps!

After the first section of the ride, we are hurried off the train and made to almost run across to the other side of the ‘station’ where we are confronted by an ‘infected’ person who is covered in blood and acts like a rabid animal. I can’t deny that I screamed a tad when he crept up on me!

After the brief speed walk to the other side, we are told to get onto another train carriage and again told to put on our VR headsets.  The next VR film began and honestly, as it went on, I was just very confused. I think it was a bit overdone and too much was going on which ruined the scare factor of the whole experience turning it into something that was rather comical. I got off the ride and found myself laughing at what I had just witnessed.

After speaking to my friend we both concluded that the experience was a mixture of both smart, sinister factors and then just a complete over-exaggeration that just made us laugh. We also both agreed on the fact that the quality of the VR wasn’t great either. It made most of the scary things look like a video game which kind of burst the bubble of it looking realistic to some extent.

Overall, the experience was 70% worth the almost 2 hour wait. It was something new and exciting and for a horror fanatic like me it was even more interesting. However, some elements of it just didn’t seem to fit and were overdone and the VR wasn’t the best. I think that with a few little touch ups and a slight change of plot, the ride would be able to spook even the bravest of people.

 

 

 

 

A Netflix Series that shocked the world.

On the 31st of March Netflix released a series that had been highly anticipated by fans of the book ’13 Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher, a book that showed the story of a young girl, Hannah Baker, who decided to take away her own life after recording a number of tapes explaining the reasons for her suicide.

The series starred Katherine Langford as the main character, Hannah; and Dylan Minnette as another very significant character, Clay Jensen. The show got a 91% review from Rotten Tomatoes and 8.9/10 from IMDb. Through its explicit and raw depiction of mental illness and suicide it is said to raise awareness of the issues and how important it is to spot and act upon signs noticed in peoples’ behaviour that may indicate that they are struggling with something.

Actor and singer Selena Gomez was the executive producer of the show and was originally meant to play the role of Hannah, however she decided against it. Selena claims that the show and the story it presents hits very close to home with her as she had also been through may of the struggles that Hannah had experienced throughout the duration of the series. The star hopes that the show will also be relatable to the people that decide to watch it as it explores many issues that young people in high schools have to face in this day and age. She believes that the show will literally ‘shake’ the audience and she believes that this is something that is needed.

However, despite the high ratings the show got and the recognition it had receive, people still opposed the messages that it put across and the way the book and show go about the issues. This is due to the fact that Hannah (the girl that commits suicide) makes the tapes for specific people and genuinely puts the blame on them for her killing herself, which is said to be barbaric and cruel as some of the people on the tapes did very minor things or nothing at all, however they are made to feel as though they were still to blame for her suicide. Also, making people listen to a bunch of tapes explaining all the bad things in someone’s life can be pretty heavy for any person, even if their role in the situation wasn’t as major as others. These effects can be seen throughout the tapes as some of the characters that are on the tapes start to slip into self-destructive behaviours such as alcoholism.

Another thing that was highly criticised in the show is just how explicit some of the scenes were. People across social media sites such as Tumblr and Twitter were warning people to not watch the show saying it was ‘incredibly triggering’ and that ‘if you have a mental illness or are going through a hard times at the moment, please do not watch this show’. Many people claimed that the show brought up and amplified their own problems and really triggered mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. In the last episode of the show there is a very realistic scene of Hannah actually killing herself where she is shown slitting her wrists in a bathtub (which is different from the novel which describes Hannah overdosing pills to kill herself) and there is also an incredibly disturbing rape scene. These scenes were said to deeply upset even people who didn’t have any mental health issues, therefore it was very dangerous for people with these issues to see those scenes.

On the other side of things, although people didn’t quite agree with how insensitive the producers of the show were about certain issues, people still backed Netflix for releasing a show the raises awareness of issues of suicide and bullying in schools, which is, let’s be honest, not society’s favourite things to talk about. Although the problems Hannah faced were said to be ‘romanticized’ alongside the idea of suicide, it still showed just how damaging bullying and blindness to others’ problems can really be. It teaches the audience that they must look out for each other and that no matter how small something you did to hurt someone is, it can still add to the ‘snowball effect’ that leads to, in the worst case scenario, suicide.

The show also successfully shows the reality of suicide and the chain effect of consequences after a person ends their life. This is done through the producers thoroughly showing just how difficult it was for Hannah’s parents to deal with her death, especially as they were the ones that found her body. Some people claim that the show is like a ‘realisation’ of the consequences of suicide and how it made them realise that although you may feel like you have nobody and feel like no one cares for you, there is always someone, and most definitely your family.

I believe that the show has positives and negatives but I think that it really does raise awareness of suicide and just how impactful it is on the people around you. It is also the first modern show to really in depth explore those issues head-on, making it controversial but also effective.

If you are struggling with anything and need someone to talk to at any point, here are some suicide helplines that are always available:

  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying

 

 

 

 

Holi Festival at University of Essex.

The University of Essex prides itself in how multicultural it is. Thanks to how culturally varied we are, we get to explore and help celebrate different religions.

On the 7th March 2017, by the Lakes, people gathered in the sun with the intention to get very messy. Everyone was waiting to celebrate the Hindu spring festival, Holi.

Holi is known as the festival of colour and is mostly celebrated in India and Nepal. The festival is a way to celebrate the beginning of spring, and the end of winter. It is a time filled with positivity and happiness.

I managed to get a bit more insight into the event from Alexis, an RA who was very involved in the organisation.

The event started to be planned around the beginning of the year and it was organised by the Societies Guild, Students’ Union then joined, followed by the Indian society in order to make the celebration as memorable and colourful as possible. Before the event could be authorised, risk assessments had to be filled in, in order to ensure that everyone will be safe and happy, especially considering that the event was quite close to the lakes and someone could accidentally fall. Warnings about the power used during the event were also displayed on the Students’ Union page alongside all the other details that people may want to know about the event and how it will be run.

The event was decided to be set at the beautiful University of Essex lakes which was an incredible idea as the weather on the day was perfect, making the experience even more memorable, with around 200 people turning up on the day, it was definitely a great sight to witness!

There were several elements that were added onto the event to jazz it up a bit. The Societies Guild provided white t-shirts on site with several different colours of spray paint and stencils, one that said ‘HOLI’ and the other one with the house SU sign. There was also several lovely volunteers present that did face paint for the people taking part, and the best part was, it was free!

All the people participating were asked to gather by the BBQ area between the two lakes from 11:30am where they got their t-shirts and face-paint. At around 12pm everyone started walking towards the designated area for the event behind the lakes (they had put fences up to mark the space that they could use which only had two entrances). There were volunteers in 4 corners ready to give out the coloured powder to everybody. The excitement was in the air, everyone was chatting away, smiling and laughing. When everyone finally gathered up in the designated are, it was time. The coloured powder was handed out to everyone and the party was ready to begin.

The throwing of coloured powder lasted around 40 minutes and was a crazy rainbow of colours and laughter as everyone pelted the coloured powder at each other with no remorse! People had powder everywhere possible; in their ears, hair, mouth. It was insane. There were photographers present at the scene, ready to snap away the havoc. They took a before and after group photo which highlighted just how wild everyone got.

After the powder had finished and the last remains of it settled on the ground, all the people taking part headed back over where the Indian society were offering refreshments and some traditional Indian food to keep the Holi spirits alive. After the event had ended, the incredible volunteers cleaned up the aftermath of the madness.

After speaking with several people that attended the event, it seemed to have been a huge success. One of the people I spoke to recalled pleasantly: “events like this help unite all the different cultures throughout the university, and I think its amazing.” I don’t think I could agree more with that! Another person said: “Although I had to take like 3 showers to get the powder out of my hair, it was an experience I will never forget.”

I would like to congratulate all the great people that took part in making this event as amazing as it was. Events like this really help to unite people, increase understanding of different cultures and religions, and also just give heaps of joy and excitement to university life, which we can all agree can be quite dull and overwhelming some times.