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This morning I woke up and fell into my usual routine of mindlessly checking my social media accounts before being greeted by a series of posts on YikYak about an incident at Sultans last night – an event which some have now dubbed ‘Sultansgate’.
The posts in question relate to a group of drunk students in Sultans last night who were filmed on the restaurant’s Snapchat account.
Sultans have gained notoriety recently for their Snapchat account, with lengthy ‘stories’ recording everyone on their post-night-out food visit, where they essentially shove their phone in customer’s faces in an attempt to document how amazing Sultans is. If anything, it seems an attempt at marketing Sultans as some form of an after-party venue.
However, last night’s Snapchat ‘story’ was slightly different, with the usual variety of customers featured on the account being shirked in favour of videos focusing on one particular group of female students. The story, which lasted several minutes, featured the group of girls dancing on chairs.
Subsequent posts on the social media platform YikYak have seen many comments arise regarding whether Sultans are correct to film drunken customers (which can then be viewed publicly on their Snapchat account). One ‘Yakker’ said “for the record Sultans’ Snapchat has always made me uncomfortable, the way they film drunk people”.
Sultans have apparently since commented on how it was the birthday of one of the girls, and apologised for the Snapchats.
What is disappointing as a result of this incident is the amount of comments I have seen about issues of consent, most notably statements claiming that the girls in the videos were “asking for it” based purely on the way in which they dress.
Much debate has arisen about whether a drunk person is considered of sound enough mind to be able to consent to activities such as being filmed for something which will be posted publicly. Such discussion has also called into question the photography which takes place in venues such as Sugarhouse and Hustle. There is also the issue of what the reaction to this situation would’ve been had the genders been reversed – with other past Snapchats involving groups of #lads having little-to-no reaction, or certainly no reaction to the same scale as that seen on YikYak this weekend.
Where is the line between capturing the atmosphere of Sultans and exploiting individuals who aren’t necessarily entirely conscious of their surroundings? The answer to this question isn’t as crystal clear as would be ideal, but it certainly does highlight the remaining concerns about issues of consent within the student community and the unfortunate attitudes some still have.
Personally, I’m not comfortable with the idea of Sultans posting Snapchats of their customers at any time of the day, be it noon or 3am, sober or not. And, regardless of whether or not the girls featured in last night’s Snapchats consented or not, this raises an interesting discourse surrounding the range of attitudes about consent among Lancaster’s student body.