UCF launches sexual assault initiative at Beacham
On Tuesday afternoon, an ensemble of local club bartenders, bouncers and servers filled the Beacham night club to begin the first session of the community-wide sexual assault initiative, BarTab.
At 3:30 p.m., representatives from UCF Victim Services, Victim Service Center of Central Florida and the UCF Police Department led a two-hour interactive training session for bar personnel, which included various activities and discussions about sexual assault targets and bystander intervention.
"We want to take an active role ... really to teach them to have their eyes open and to recognize body language when somebody might be preyed upon," said Victim Service Center of Central Florida's Executive Director Lui Damiani.
As the presentation began, advocates from both UCF Victim Services and VSC passed out pretests in order to test the bar staff's prior knowledge on sexual assault and bystander intervention. The test transitioned into participants from the crowd guessing sexual statistics, such as the ratio of how many men and women have been the target of rape.
The dialogue and activities of BarTab work to help enhance the knowledge of bartenders, and other club employees, said Coretta Cotton, UCF Victim Services' senior victim advocate.
"We want them to be really dialed in and zeroed in on this. And also to take the extra step once they do recognize that a problem is possible, that they go approach the situation and start asking probing questions," Damiani said.
The community organizations that adopted the BarTab training, which originated in Tampa, are working to take the training into bars surrounding UCF so students can also benefit from bystander prevention.
"Once we have it established [downtown], we're going to roll it out to the Alafaya corridor and cover the bars out there, as well. We want all of our students to be safe and this is the first step towards addressing that," said UCF PD Deputy Chief Carl Metzger.
Currently, the organizations are still testing out the training sessions to ensure that the program will be successful in preventing sexual assault crimes from happening in Orlando's nightlife scene.
"Hopefully we can spread it not only downtown to East Orlando and all over, so that the word is out and we get more bartenders and bouncers trained so that they can help college-age students, adults who are not in college. We want everyone to be safe," Cotton said.
The Knight's Pub near UCF has already expressed interest in implementing the training, said UCF spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin, and UCF PD is meeting with Knight Library this week to pitch the idea.
BarTab is expected to be launched at UCF-area bars in September.
Shanae Hardy is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaeH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.