Sheffield Students’ Union has defended publishing drug advice on its website, insisting that they are not ‘normalising’ drug use after coming under fire in the national press.
A post on the website directed students to guidance from Loop, a company which provides drug safety testing, welfare and harm reduction services, and included advice on the safest ways to take crystallised MDMA.
It suggested crushing pills into smaller amounts, avoiding mixing with other substances, and to “chill out and drink water”.
In an opinion article for Metro last Friday Katharine Swindells, SU Welfare Officer, criticised the national coverage of The Telegraph, Metro and the Daily Mail, as ‘inaccurate and wrong’.
She said: “This isn’t the Students’ Union normalising drug-taking; this is us taking precautions to reduce risk. In an ideal world, students won’t touch drugs, but we know in reality things are often different.”
The webpage also advised students on correct dosages for class A drugs MDMA and ecstasy.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Bliss Hunter, a drama student at the University of Sheffield, said: “The Students’ Union should be looking at protecting students and deferring them away from the drug scene, not encouraging them to take them.”
Sab Jones, a final year Spanish student, said: “I’m ashamed that this policy is real and on their website.”
The SU brought in stricter drug policies following the death of Sheffield Hallam student Joana Burns, 22, who fell ill after taking £7 worth of MDMA at Tuesday Club in their venue in 2017.
In her article Katharine reaffirmed the SU’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs, and the non-judgemental approach taken to students feeling unwell on SU nights out. She also pointed to the SU’s collaboration with Sheffield DACT, a support service for drug, alcohol and domestic abuse issues.
The SU Welfare Officer also added: “Too many young people experiment with drugs without any knowledge of what they do, how they work and what the risks are.
“As a responsible students’ union, our role is about more than just telling students not to take drugs. It’s important to recognise the clear difference – health protection is not promoting use.”
A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “The University and its Students’ Union do not condone substance misuse in any shape or form and the safety and security of our students is of the utmost importance to us.
“We do however understand some students may try drugs during their time at University.
“With this in mind, we think it is important to ensure that, while we cannot condone this, if a student does choose to take drugs, they are as informed as possible, and take steps to take all reasonable precautions.”