The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday May 20th

Volunteers raise the bar about sexual assault prevention

A UNC organization seeks to “raise the bar” by reaching out to the community and providing education about sexual assault to bars in Chapel Hill.

Raise the Bar is a program initiated by the UNC Student Wellness center in collaboration with the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the Carolina Women’s Center. 

“The goals of the program include promoting an environment of safety in local bars and establishments that sell alcohol, as well as informing bar staff and patrons about drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA),” Kelli Raker, coordinator for violence prevention programs at UNC Student Wellness, said in an email.

Raise the Bar hosts outreach events once or twice a year and offers trainings for bar staff in collaboration with Chapel Hill Police Department. 

Raker said during the outreach events, volunteers visit local establishments to inform the staff about sexual assault and trainings that Raise the Bar offers, as well as provide flyers about consent.

Volunteers, including UNC students and community members, receive an hour-long training prior to reaching out to establishments.

The next outreach event will place on Friday, and volunteers are still needed.

Raker said since the launch of the program in 2003, they have had conversations with 54 establishments that sell alcohol in Chapel Hill, focusing on those that are closest to the campus.

“Staff at bars and restaurants have responded positively to the program and have been receptive to our volunteers during outreach events,” Raker said in an email.

Raise the Bar training is offered every other month as a part of the Chapel Hill Police Department’s “Be A Responsible Server” (B.A.R.S.) course. Staff at Student Wellness teach about bystander intervention specifically for bar staff. The class Monday had 43 participants. 

Staff at the Blue Horn Lounge and Top of the Hill on Franklin Street have participated in the training sessions.

“I think education and safely serving is very, very important and they do a pretty good job of executing it out,” Chip Bowman, manager at the Blue Horn Lounge, said.

Bowman said his staff had been trained and that the program did a good job of bringing awareness about the issue.

James Noyes, bar manager at Top of the Hill, said the B.A.R.S. course was comprehensive and allowed for more open communication with local businesses and the police department.

“It’s definitely important," Noyes said. "You always want to make sure that you’re keeping everybody educated on the law and just the way that the town is working."

@janna_childers

city@dailytarheel.com

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