After the group successfully launched their new blog and campaign to end street harassment, Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! got straight to work designing a new educational program to encourage bystander intervention from area bartenders. They hope to train and certify at least 5 area bars over the course of the summer. Bar staff will need to attend one three hour training that discusses rape culture, bystander intervention, and self defense techniques and uses scenarios and activities to practice newly learned skills. A discussion group comprised of staff from all participating bars will follow two months later in order to discuss changes and progress made as well as how to move forward into the next school year. Bar tenders will then be able to utilize the blog to publicly report their brave and compassionate acts of bystander intervention as they test out their new skills through real life events. Participating bars will receive a window sticker bearing the Hollaback! Logo and the words, “This Establishment is I GOT YOUR BACK Certified,” lending a sense of safety to patrons in that they can expect that someone will have their back should a tricky situation arise whether it be late into a drunken night out or just sipping one drink during happy hour. Participating establishments will also be listed in Hollaback! Ads in the papers thanking them for their participation.
Sarah Fick, Program Coordinator for the Sexual Assault Prevention Program and organizer for Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! had this to say about the new certification program, “We’re going to ground zero. Street harassment is a huge problem in Athens, just like it is throughout the world. I’ve been avoiding going uptown during certain hours for years because the amount of harassment I have experienced from drunken college boys is obscene and extremely aggravating. We’re doing something positive to change that. Bar tenders see it day in and day out, and we’d like to empower them with the knowledge of effective skills with which to safely challenge bad behavior. If bar patrons know that someone has their eyes open and is ready to intervene, they may be less likely to behave in a sexist or threatening manner in the first place.”
Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! asserts that street harassment is part of rape culture, that living in a culture where inappropriate, intimidating, and disrespectful behaviors that cross personal boundaries are consistently allowed to happen in public spaces facilitates a culture where even worse things happen behind closed doors. They are working to change that culture, and they hope you’ll join them. For more information about the certification program or to find out how you can get involved, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out the blog at appalachianohio.ihollaback.org.