When a DJ at Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub played “Blurred Lines,” Liz Hawryluk stepped into the DJ box to ask him to stop.
Critics say the song promotes rape culture with lyrics like “I know you want it.”
Hawryluk said she was then asked to leave the bar completely.
But Lauren Shoaf, a spokeswoman for Fitzgerald’s, said it was a misunderstanding, and the UNC senior was only asked to leave the DJ’s area, not the bar.
“Fundamentally, all I was aiming to do is to create a safe space in the Carolina community,” Hawryluk said. “In a lot of ways, violent or graphic images that allude to sexual violence are triggers.”
Hawryluk took her fight to Facebook. Dozens of students and community advocates flooded Fitzgerald’s Facebook page, condemning the pub for allowing the incident to occur.
This week, Fitzgerald’s issued a formal apology to Hawryluk and her friends.
“This song is played by many DJs at Fitzgerald’s, and other places, but it will never be played here again,” Shoaf said in her apology to Hawryluk.
The DJ, who was only visiting Fitzgerald’s that night, will not be allowed to return to the pub, Shoaf said in her apology.
Hawryluk said it is incidents like that of Saturday that make her appreciate programs like Raise the Bar, a program sponsored by UNC Student Wellness that trains bar staff to be more aware of issues regarding alcohol impairment and sexual assault.
Local DJs also stepped forward to help Hawryluk’s cause.
Junior Trevor Dougherty, who performs as a DJ under the name good ratio, read Hawryluk’s Facebook posts and decided he had to step in.
“I just think its totally unacceptable for DJs in a college town — or anywhere — to play it,” Dougherty said. “As a good DJ you can do better than playing a track that is so overplayed and so insensitive.”
Dougherty, who is studying abroad in Tokyo this semester, began posting negative reviews on Fitzgerald’s page for the bar’s actions.
“I think the bar and club culture in Chapel Hill and beyond needs a lot of help in the way it treats women,” Dougherty said. “Especially in a liberal and educated college town, I think young women should feel safe to go out and have a drink and enjoy themselves.”
While Hawryluk said some of her friends had agreed to return to Fitzgerald’s after the bar issued its apology, she wouldn’t be returning.
“But thank you so much to the community who has spoken to address this issue and to the bars and companies on Franklin who are willing to speak out.”