**Trigger Warning for violent, threatening language and perpetuation of rape myths**
An Open Letter to Kyle Bartosiewicz, Manager of Fitzgerald’s Bar on Franklin Street:
Good afternoon. Our names are Sarah Pederson, Wilson Hood, Mars Earle, and Jennifer Waldkirch. We are UNC-Chapel Hill students who would like to respond to your harassment both in person and over social media of our friend Liz Hawryluk. Your actions of targeting and attacking a single, brave woman for standing up to you are both cowardly and mistaken, and we believe that such actions necessitate community accountability. Actions that attempt to silence and shame voices that are trying to keep our community safe cannot be tolerated in a community that supposedly values justice, dignity, and respect for all of its members.
Last Saturday night, Liz Hawryluk, West Holbrook, and two other friends who wish to remain anonymous, asked a guest DJ at your establishment if he would stop playing the song “Blurred Lines,” as it contains triggering, violent lyrics that perpetuate rape culture by normalizing rape (if you are having a difficult time understanding what rape culture is and how it relates to the song “Blurred Lines”, we encourage you to review this article). The DJ proceeded to scream at them- calling them “f***cking stupid”- after which a bouncer came up to the group, said “It is time for you to leave,” and escorted them out of your building. We have multiple witnesses that can attest to this as fact, despite your allegations that you simply asked this group to leave the DJ booth. Once members of the student community learned about this horrible mistreatment, many chose to use social media to voice their shock and disappointment at your choices. However, instead of choosing to listen to our concerns, you chose instead to continue harassing, demeaning, and belittling us by posting the following article on your personal Facebook page, a rant posted by the website “BarStool Sports” that violently attacks Liz and her allies:
We are deeply saddened by your choice to perpetuate this malicious, ignorant message. Not only is it unbelievably unprofessional, but it is also deeply hateful. We are shocked and deeply hurt by the comments that were made on this post on your personal Facebook, including comments made by members of Fitzgerald’s staff, and felt that they did not align with the apology issued by your organization earlier this week. If your business really is so committed to avoiding the promotion of rape culture within your establishment and providing “a safe, friendly atmosphere where people can come to enjoy a good meal and experience a fun time,” then why are you choosing to explicitly harass those customers and jeopardize their safety online? Thanks to you, your friends, and the author of the rant on BarStool Sports, Liz has been harassed repeatedly, including dehumanizing comments and rape threats, through her personal social media accounts:
We wish this outpouring of hatred for Liz came as more of a surprise, but following the insincere apology that you issued to Liz, West, and their two anonymous friends, it sadly comes as no surprise at all. In your apology- in which you misspell Liz’s name (it’s Hawryluk, we are certain you will take better care in your next apology to spell her name correctly)- the management stated: “We in no way promote a ‘rape culture’ in our establishment.” Every piece of evidence we have collected from your social media account shows otherwise. Your endorsement of these attacks on Liz stem from the same culture that accepts and normalizes “Blurred Lines” and many other damaging and sexist media. Your silencing of our voices comes from the same culture that silences and refuses to support survivors of rape. Your shaming of Liz for standing up for survivors comes from the same culture that shames survivors when they try to speak out about their experiences- and that culture is a rape culture.
We hope you take two things away from this response, one being that it is impossible for rape culture not to exist at your establishment. Rape culture exists everywhere. Part of rape culture is the collection of images, words, ideas, and yes, songs that shape our understandings of what sex is in a way that constructs sex as more about power and control (i.e. rape) rather than about human intimacy and connection. While certain aspects of rape culture certainly seem “normal” and “popular”, we all have a responsibility to ensure that our actions do not perpetuate this culture of violence. We also want you to know that you have made an error in assuming that Liz Hawryluk is a lone, “crazy” feminist attacking your establishment. She was not alone that night and she is not alone now.
We want to express our sincerest admiration and gratitude to Liz- she is a great leader in our community, an inspirational force, and has a huge capacity to love. In defense of this wonderful person and in a spirit of solidarity with survivors, we would like to make the following asks of our community:
Boycott Fitzgerald’s Pub until Manager Kyle Bartosiewicz is held accountable for harassing Liz Hawryluk and not taking the safety of our community seriously
In an effort to make Chapel Hill nightlife safe, require all Fitzgerald’s staff to participate in “Raise the Bar” trainings to ensure that staff understand how to prevent sexual violence
Tweet @Fitzgeralds_CH using the hashtags #KeepUNCSafe and let them know what you think about these events!
Come to #KeepUNCSafe: Stand with Liz to show Fitzgerald’s that we are united in our struggle to end sexual violence
Love and solidarity,
Sarah Pederson, Wilson Hood, Mars Earle, and Jennifer Waldkirch