'Rotten to its core': Tuesday town hall addresses Shooters II culture, plans protests

If you're heading to Shooters II Saloon after winter break, you might run into protesters.

Student activists organized Tuesday to discuss initial plans for a boycott and protest of the popular nightclub because student activists that allege it is complicit in sexual assault. The protest, discussed at an event scheduled by the Duke Men's Project—a group that aims to tackle "toxic masculinity"—is scheduled to begin Jan. 16. 

In addition to an organized boycott, protest outside the club's doors and a petition, students suggested shining headlamps on people on the dance floor to reveal the forms of sexual assault that they said occur on a nightly basis. 

“Pretty much everyone is aware that Shooters is very complicit in sexual assault and groping,” senior Chris Camp said.

A post from the Duke Men's Project after the event said it hopes to "line the path to Shooters with signs and protesters to recruit more individuals to pledge and remind those who do attend of what they are funding." Others suggested informing first-year students of other activities that Duke offers on Wednesday nights.

Students at the meeting said they believe that the problem with Shooters runs deep. 

"By attending and funding a toxic and corrupt institution, students are complicit in its existence and perpetuation," a Duke Men's Project post read after the event. 

Some students argued that the entire foundation of the Shooters environment is founded on normalizing rape culture through the mirage of a nightclub setting. Senior Miriam Levitin said she was so affected by the Shooters culture that she remarked she would not feel safe protesting even outside of Shooters.

“Shooters is rotten to its core,” said Trey Walk, senior and organizer for the People's State of the University . 

The initial goal of the protests is to pressure owner Kim Cates and Shooters management through decreased business to have its staff undertake the “Raising the Bar” sexual assault training, but the group is pessimistic that Cates will compromise.

“We are not thrilled about having ongoing dialogue with Kim Cates,” senior Kelsey Shelofsky said.

College Town reported that Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, reached out to Cates about doing the program. However, Cates said she didn't because "it was the summer and she only had part-timers." Cates said she reached out to Moneta during the school year but didn't hear back. After that, they didn't "connect further."

The activists' ultimate goal is more ambitious than just training. 

Many students at the meeting thought that Shooters should no longer be part of the Duke undergraduate culture and that its environment is too rotten and unsafe to be truly reformed. They hoped that in the distant future, first-year students at Duke will no longer be what they described as coerced to go, while inebriated, to a toxic environment that is inherently unsafe and perpetuates cultural norms of sexual assault. 

“We need to transform the view of Shooters for freshman from where they have to go as part of the Duke experience, to a view where it’s not part of the Duke experience at all,” senior Alec Wall said.


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