Staff at bars, restaurants and clubs operating near University of Dayton are getting empowered to stand up against sexual harassment and assault by learning innovative bystander intervention strategies.
University of Dayton Student Government Association and UD Public Safety have been working with YWCA Dayton to bring the nonprofit’s Gem City Safe Bars intervention program to establishments around Brown Street.
“As advocates for the student body, SGA has listened to our peers’ call for more sexual assault prevention on and off campus. YWCA’s Safe Bars program is a step in the right direction as we work to combat a national crisis our campus unfortunately is not exempt from. This process shows how our university and students can thrive when we collaborate with organizations in our community,” University of Dayton Student Government Association President Sofia Garcia said. “I am looking forward to continuing our partnership with YWCA Dayton as we help bring its programming to more bars near campus.”
An American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds, according to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. An estimated 50% of those assaults involve alcohol in some way – often as an excuse or camouflage for the aggressor, or as a weapon used to incapacitate a target.
However, the environment around an aggressor ultimately determines their behavior. The goal of the Safe Bars program is to equip Dayton’s hospitality workers with the knowledge, skills, and experience to create safer environments for their patrons and each other – environments where sexual violence isn’t tolerated.
This YWCA Dayton program is led by prevention education staff from YW’s Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence.
In the Brown Street area, Timothy’s Bar & Grill has previously participated in the program and YWCA Dayton is aiming to do more outreach and partner with more establishments as student workers return for the start of the school year.
YW’s 2.5 hour curriculum comes from the national SafeBars.org initiative. The program is designed by hospitality staff for hospitality staff. Staff learn the warning signs and patterns of sexually violent behavior at each step of a typical assault, and then staff have chance to talk with the program educators about how to best intervene.
Topher Peck, a 2021 UD grad and YWCA sexual violence preventionist, said one of the benefits of the program is that it opens up a conversation that many workers in the hospitality industry don’t get to have.
“It gives them the opportunity to talk about their experiences and what they have witnessed. They also get a chance to talk about different scenarios and feel prepared to intervene, so they are not left struggling to act in the moment,” Peck said.
These skills build on the “Green Dot” prevention strategies that UD students are already learning.
“Keeping our students safe on and off campus is our priority, so being a partner with the YWCA Dayton on the Gem City Safe Bars initiative is an easy choice,” said Savalas Kidd, assistant vice president for public safety and chief of police. “We welcome the opportunity to work with the YWCA Dayton and bars near campus to help provide a safe as possible environment for our students. At the beginning of each academic year, we remind our students about tips to keep them safe on and off campus, which include being alert to their surroundings, staying in groups and knowing where to find help. We hope this initiative will add another layer of protection.”
Establishments who complete the training receive a 1-year certificate, access to YW resources and re-trainings, and a window decal that shows the community that the staff are committed to ending sexual violence.
Any interested bar or restaurant can learn more at ywcadayton.org/gem-city-safe-bars/ or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact YWCA Dayton’s 24-7 Crisis Hotline at 937-222-SAFE (7233).