Content warning: This article contains mentions of sexual assault.
Over the last few weeks, bands in Chapel Hill and beyond have formed a coalition against organizations accused of drink tampering and sexual assault, including fraternities. Members of the coalition agree not to play at venues with allegations against them.
The coalition, called the Safer Shows Collective, emerged after recent drink tampering allegations against a UNC fraternity.
Jackson Reed, junior at UNC and co-lead guitarist of Happy Friday Bagel Time, and Benjamin Harvey, sophomore and drummer for the band, created the coalition.
“I think that’s what we are trying to do with this coalition, is understanding the problem, understanding that we hold a position of power and trying to incentivize organizations into taking safe events more seriously and prioritizing their event goers’ safety through the promise that we will stop playing shows for them if they have an incident like that,” Reed said.
Since the Safer Shows Collective's founding last month, 12 bands and DJs have joined from UNC and other North Carolina schools facing the same issues.
The current bands in the coalition are: Almost Friday NC, By George, Felspar, Happy Friday Bagel Time, Harvey Street Co., Late Notice, Satellite Dog, Teza Music, The Doink, The Hot Pan Band, The Inflights and The Modern Age. Any band interested in joining the coalition is welcome to, Reed said.
“We do have a responsibility to make sure that we are promoting safe shows and that we are creating the best environment possible,” Harvey said. “That way everyone can enjoy the live music and there is not a chance anything bad can happen at one of our shows.”
Harvey said the coalition is still determining the criteria it will use for considering an organization safe or unsafe to play, as well as the process an unsafe organization could undergo to be removed from the list.
“To get off of this list, you can go through training programs, you can show us tangible ways that you have improved yourself as an organization and show that you are more mature and can host safe parties,” Reed said. “Because we also want to spark change within organizations instead of just disbanding them.”
To uphold the collective's promise of creating a safer environment at their shows, the bands plan to appoint someone as a safeguard in the audience, Reed said. If anyone feels uncomfortable during a performance, they will have the option to approach this person for help.
Reed said this spring, the Safer Shows Collective is organizing a music festival where each of the bands will perform to raise money for organizations that support sexual assault victims.
UNC junior Tesnim Awel is a DJ and part of the coalition. To him, joining the Safer Shows Collective was the right thing to do based on the recent incidents on campus.
“If we are in the environment, or maybe even creating the environment, it’s also our responsibility to make sure that we are playing safe shows or going to places that are risk averse,” he said. “I feel like the responsibility weighs on me a little bit as a performer to create safe environments for my audience and my fans.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.