Ask for Angela campaign at bars aims to reduce sexual assault
This campaign alerts customers that if they feel uncomfortable at the bar, they can “Ask for Angela” and staff on duty will help resolve the issue without making a scene. Customers are informed of the policy through signs on the backs of doors in the women’s bathroom.
Goodfellows owner Steve Woodham said he is no rookie when it comes to owning bars and understanding nightlife culture. He previously ran Players, the nightclub where The Strowd is now located, and has owned Goodfellows for almost 12 years.
“I’ve literally been around that block,” Woodham said.
“Over the years, sexual assault awareness has become a lot more important to me. I think it just came with maturity.”
Woodham said owning bars has brought him a lot closer to the issues that need resolving.
“We’re kind of down in the trenches,” Woodham said. “We can have a truer idea of what’s going on — at least as far as the bars go.”
In addition to implementing the “Ask for Angela” program in Goodfellows, Woodham has collaborated with Raise the Bar, an outreach and education program through the University. Raise the Bar informs bars about drug-facilitated sexual assault and bystander intervention.
The outreach program offers free training to any bar staff.
Kelli Raker, the coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC, said the prevention of sexual violence is the responsibility of everyone in the community.
“There is a place for every person, business and agency in this work,” Raker said. “Research indicates that the best progress towards this end occurs when campus and community partners work together.”
Raker also emphasized the importance of Raise the Bar’s bystander training programs.
“We host Raise the Bar trainings because providing bystander intervention training specifically for bar staff gives them the tools to recognize and intervene when they see warning signs of alcohol and drug facilitated sexual assault,” Raker said.
Merran Cunningham, a UNC exchange student from Australia, said she had heard of the “Ask for Angela” initiative before it was implemented at Goodfellows.
“I think they are a great idea, because a lot of women find that it’s socially unacceptable to bail on a date or they feel pressured to continue on,” Cunningham said. “Even just having these signs up let women know that it’s totally okay to leave even if you don’t like it.”
Woodham said he’s hoping to see the campaign spread around Chapel Hill beyond just Goodfellows.
“It’s not even just about “Ask for Angela,” it’s about the bigger picture of changing the culture and pushing forward with making a safe environment for your staff and for your customers,” Woodham said.