OASIS hosts workshop addressing sexual harassment for local restaurants and bars

Anna Dollar, News Reporter

At least half of all student sexual assaults involve alcohol, according to Alcohol.Org.

OASIS held a session at Harvest House for local bar and restaurant owners about intervening when they witness inappropriate and potentially dangerous behavior from intoxicated people in their businesses. 

“We learned what it means to be an active bystander and what kind of things we should watch out for as red flags,” co-owner of The Cardinal Seth Sullivan said.

An active bystander bartender is aware of their surroundings in their bar and intervenes when they see a potential red flag.

Participating businesses collectively decided what red flags to look for in a setting where people are drinking.

  • Red flags include:
  • Somebody being too drunk
  • Giving a person that is significantly more drunk unwanted attention
  • Aggression toward others
  • A person attempting to get somebody drunk while they are not drinking
  • Someone insisting that a person go home with them

An employee can help by walking up to the situation and asking everybody if they are OK, according to OASIS.

“We have the ability to kind of insert ourselves into situations,” Sullivan said. “Even just going up to the table and making sure everything is OK and putting more face time in with the people and making them aware that you could potentially help them if things got out of their control.”

In a difficult situation, Sullivan said staff at The Cardinal try to make guests feel more comfortable. For example, if a woman is drunk and needs assistance, a younger female staff member will help her.

Anna Muckenfuss
OASIS held a session asking that local restaurant workers intervene when they witness inappropriate or dangerous behavior. The Horton Hotel and The Cardinal were amongst several local institutions that attended.

“It’s all about awareness,” food and beverage director of The Horton Hotel Hunter Hallmark said. “Just what to look for as far as scenarios that could potentially feed into a dangerous situation to prevent it from getting to the point where it becomes dangerous.”

Emma Start, junior sustainable development major and volunteer at the Women’s Center, said she has worked in restaurants since she was 16 years old.

Start said she appreciates what OASIS, the bars and the restaurants in attendance were doing, though she is disappointed it had to happen in the first place.

“I would say this speaks a lot about society and how we feel about and treat women,” Start said. “It speaks to our greater culture and that we don’t care enough, and we have to have these seminars and lectures with how to prevent issues.”

At her former job, Start said she experienced sexual harassment and dealt with men acting inappropriately. In one instance, Start said a drunken man made snide comments to her. Start said she was so flabbergasted that she had to ask the male bartender to cover her table for the rest of the night.

“He just kept calling me ‘sweetie,’ ‘baby,’ and he would even make noises at me,” Start said. “It’s even more uncomfortable because I’m working, so I have to maintain a certain attitude and respect for the customer even when I don’t want to because they aren’t respecting me.”

Start said she thinks some men should go to lectures to learn what is and is not appropriate to say to a woman.

“The more information people have and the more support they have around these kinds of issues, the more comfortable they will be inserting themselves into situations,” Sullivan said.