“We’re training them to basically recognize red flags — signs for drug-facilitated sexual assault — so that includes forcing drinks onto people that already look really drunk, isolating people from their friends,” said English junior Bailey Hamblin, a Safer student assistant, who is helping develop the program. “We’re also teaching them to actively intervene.”
The program is in its beginning stages, said psychology senior Danielle Pollack, a Safer intern who is also working on the program. As of now, training would involve an interactive presentation, which could occur annually. Pollack and Hamblin have a committee working together, and they have collaborated with local sexual assault prevention and recovery center RISE and Creekside Brewing Company general manager Travis Reeder.
There are many benefits for bars to participate in the program, Pollack said. In return for training, Safer could give the bars free advertising, as well as coasters and a placard that says they are Safer-certified.
It’s in everyone’s best interest to participate, Reeder said, and he expects his staff and other bars to be receptive of the program.
“The biggest benefit, I think, would be first and foremost being able to provide that much more of a safer environment for people to enjoy themselves in,” he said.
It’s also beneficial on the back end, since it decreases the bar’s liability, Reeder said. It would allow the employees to handle incidents and prevent them before they occur.
Reeder recognizes, however, that participating in the training might make customers think Creekside has had an issue with drug-facilitated sexual assault in the past. But the training, he said, is about being “proactive and staying ahead of the game instead of being reactive.”
Pollack and Hamblin created a survey about bar safety downtown, and so far 81 people have participated. They found people did not feel threatened downtown — which is good, Hamblin said — but that they would much rather go to a bar that has been trained to handle drug-facilitated sexual assault.
“I think that’s a big incentive for bars to participate in the training,” Hamblin said. “They already do a lot to make sure their bars are safe, and that their bars are a safe place for people to drink, and I think this training just adds a little bit more to it.”
Pollack is passionate about this issue and said it’s something that needs to be addressed.
“I just want it to make a safer community downtown with the bar staffs,” Pollack said. “I want to remove some of the stigma and hesitation associated with identifying the issues around drug-facilitated sexual assault and make it a more comfortable and active community around it.”