Newcastle's Students Reclaim the Night

Students from across Newcastle gathered together to protest the safety of marginalised genders.

Kayleigh Fraser
6th December 2021
Northumberland street was part of the march route. Image Credit: The Courier
Newcastle's students took back the night in a large scale march through the city centre.

On the 25th November students and activists from Newcastle University's 'It Happens Here' society took to the streets. Leading the march with the message to 'Reclaim the Night', the mission aims to make people from marginalised genders feel safe on the streets.

The Courier and NUTV joined 'It Happens Here' during their banner making activity in the Bamburgh Room. We spoke to one activist who kindly showed us their sign for the protest and chatted to us about what made them want to get involved.

The society gathered to make banners and pickets in Student Central. Image Credit: The Courier

"It Happens Here is all about sexual violence, and the point of 'It Happens Here' is to show that it happens here. I feel like as one of the societies it's incredibly relevant to all of student life because there is such high rates of sexual violence within the student community."

Their sign was colourful and simple - a fist with 'resist' boldly underneath. They said "Resistance is really what we're going for here. Time and time again the police have used horrendous authoritarian powers against anyone who would dare to disagree with them."

We're resisting the authoritarian, patriarchal, misogynistic society we live in.

George Wood, the Liberation Officer at NUSU also spoke to us. "It's definitely really important march we're doing tonight and I think it's a really nice show of solidarity."

George (left) and Nate (right) holding their signs for the march. Image Credit: The Courier

Part of this solidarity does include the lack of safety people have felt due to spiking in recent months. We asked George about this and discussed how the anti-spiking campaign has often been female-centric: "I definitely think it's really important to be talking about victims instead of just women or any other specific faction of that."

At around nine o'clock we moved to the arches - the starting point of the march. After a quick rehearsal of the chants: 'Who's streets? Our streets!', 'What do we want? Safety! When do we want it? Now!', 'People united, never defeated!' we began our walk to Monument.

Everyone stood in solidarity at the arches. Image Credit: The Courier
A closer look at some of the picket signs. Image Credit: The Courier
The sign 'Goths say reclaim the night' was one of my favourites. Image Credit: The Courier
Everyone was welcome at the meeting. Image Credit: The Courier

The route was a full loop: down Northumberland Street, onto Grey Street, past Market Shaker and Flares, then back up towards the final destination of Monument.

Along the way the march was met with positive and negative reinforcement. Some joined in with the chants and cheered us on, whilst others yelled things like 'Shut the f*** up!', 'Do something useful!' and laughed at the cause.

The Night felt truly reclaimed. Image Credit: The Courier

Perhaps the most upsetting part of the heckling were bouncers. In particular, the bouncers at some Bigg market clubs were not enthusiastic about us walking past. Despite this negative reception, the group walked on. Led by Elizabeth Marriage on the megaphone, morale stayed high until the end.

Elizabeth took the megaphone to rally the marchers. Image Credit: The Courier

Speakers from across the community took their opportunity to address the crowd. One speaker was Sarah Gate from Women's Street Watch. "I don't know about you but I'm sick of being told that this is my responsibility."

She continued "Either there is no issue or there is one. It doesn't make sense to tell women to protect themselves while insisting we should be grateful that things are not worse."

Towards the end of the night, NUSU's Welfare and Equality Officer Briana Gordhan took the megaphone. Speaking about working in activisim, the officer revealed "If I'm being completely honest with you, at points I've seen my mental health deteriorate."

"We live in a broken system and I'm fighting my best to see it improve. I hear stories about what happens in our university. Wether it be sexual violence, misogyny, hate crime... the list goes on and on."

Closing her speech, she said "Today I am inspired. I'm inspired by our collective power to come together because we will demand for more and we will not stop until our streets, until our clubs, until our institutions, until our everyday lives are safe. And we will reclaim the night."

The night closed as it ended - on an immense high of positivity, hope and most of all unity for the future. It Happens Here should be overjoyed with their campaign and for running a truly inspiring march.

The world may not be what we want it to be just yet, but as for the 25th November, the night was truly reclaimed.

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AUTHOR: Kayleigh Fraser
Campus Comment Sub Editor for 2021/22 and Head of News at NSR. English Literature Student heavily obsessed with politics, bath and body works and making positive change. Also slightly infatuated with iced coffee, guinea pigs, my dog and binging The Simpsons.

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