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Letter: Kim Cates responds to town hall about Shooters II

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My name is Kim Cates and I own Shooters. I have lived in Durham all my life. I am a female entrepreneur and, under my ownership, Shooters has been a part of the Durham community for over 20 years. As a Durham business, Shooters employs 30 local individuals. Three of them have been employed by me since 1996, longer than some of the students who slandered me and my staff and my club have been alive. By publishing an article with a headline calling Shooters “Rotten to its core” the Chronicle hurt, personally and professionally, each of the local residents who works at Shooters. Shooters is our second home and we care about every guest who crosses our threshold. We know so many of our patrons by name, and we know their families, and I want to state publicly that I sincerely appreciate all of the current students and alumni, and their family members, who have reached out to support me in this difficult time. 

I care deeply about Durham, college students, and every patron of my club. Students come to my club and tell me they have a great time. I sit and talk with many of them and get to know as many as I can. 

I applaud the Duke Men’s Project for addressing the student safety on and off campus. The safety of my patrons, especially the students, is the part of my business I care most about. This is why I employ four uniformed Durham police officers every single night Shooters is open. These officers are stationed inside and outside the club and they monitor behavior and watch for conduct that may be aggressive or unwelcome. They are easy to spot and ever-present if anyone needs assistance. In addition to a consistent police presence, I have 3 or 4 bouncers moving throughout the club at all times. I, personally, walk through the club all the time, including monitoring the ladies’ restrooms, and our dance manager and DJ have elevated views of the dance floor. That’s 10-11 adults responsible for watching the club at all times, in addition to the adult bartenders and our adult van and bus drivers. We can, and do, assist with problems or concerns of our patrons. Often, we spot problems and head them off before anything bad develops. In the event someone underage is intoxicated (and our experience is that underage patrons arrive at the club already intoxicated or semi-intoxicated), there are many adults other than the police officers that they can ask for help. 

More about safety: I have 38 security cameras in Shooters—and a security room with a staff member monitoring all camera feeds. Long ago I purchased 4 buses and 2 vans to provide safe, free transportation to and from Shooters so my patrons have no reason to drink and drive. I’ve lowered barriers in the club to increase visibility. If I see someone who appears to be intoxicated, and they’re not using our transportation, I get them into a cab or an Uber and I try to make sure someone goes home with them for their own safety. We stop serving patrons when it is clear they are intoxicated. There are times, every week, when we have to escort patrons out of the club for over-intoxication. We confiscate fake IDs from kids all the time. I have been accused of being mean and too strict with my rules. 

How is Shooters targeted as “rotten to its core” yet the Duke Men’s Project, the Duke activists, and the Chronicle have not addressed the “farm parties” (where students purchase alcohol then drive to a farm in rural North Carolina to party) which have none of the safeguards I provide for students when they come to Shooters? What is the Duke Men’s Project doing to address the safety of Duke students and engage in drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) prevention at these parties—which are at a private, unmonitored, off-campus location? 

Honestly, I was hurt and dismayed by the Chronicle article on November 28, 2018, describing Shooters as “complicit” in rape culture. We are not that. We are nothing like that. Shooters has been in business for over 20 years, and no one has ever been raped at Shooters nor has there ever been a sexual assault prosecution that arose from Shooters. I respond immediately to any complaints I receive and I review the security tapes to provide evidence for any complaints I receive. 

For the concerned students at the town hall to characterize Shooters as “founded on normalizing rape culture” is just wrong. This is like saying because 40.7% of the reports to RTI of on-campus sexual assaults on Duke undergraduate females for the 2015-16 schoolyear were alleged to have occurred in the dorms at Duke (as documented on page 46 of the RTI study) then Duke is “founded on normalizing rape culture” just because it is a co-ed institution providing dorm rooms for male and female students. Also, Shooters is not the only off-campus establishment or party venue in Durham. 

For the activists to say they are not optimistic that I will engage in the training and for Kelsey Shelofsky to state that she “is not thrilled about having ongoing dialogue” with me is slanderous and insulting—she has never once reached out to me to talk about her concerns. In fact, no one from Duke contacted me about off-campus sexual assault concerns, including the Chronicle before publishing the article, except for the brief exchange with Larry Moneta about training, which has been previously described in the press and is addressed below. 

Duke never shared with me the results of the RTI study that examined on- and off-campus sexual assault at Duke. I read the information on my own. This is deeply disappointing given my annual conversations over 18 years with Larry Moneta and Sue Wasiolek, my great relationships with scores of Duke students, alumni, and families, my years-long financial support of the Chronicle, and my love of Duke itself. I would have responded to concerns that were brought to me. 

As a Durham native and local business owner, I really wish the Duke community had given me the chance to respond to the horrible comments that defamed my professional reputation and hurt a Durham business, its owner and its employees, before holding a one-sided town hall and then publishing a one-sided article. Instead, the town hall happened and the article was published without my perspective, and now the damage is done. 

I am all for bar-staff drug facilitated sexual assault training. Anything that educates my staff and protects my patrons is great and welcome. I was contacted by Larry Moneta regarding the training over the summer. I could have agreed to do it in the summer with my skeleton staff and then this accusation could not have been leveled against me. Yet I believed every member of my staff should participate in the training, and so I put it off until my full staff returned to work. 

As it turns out, a simple review of the Duke Women’s Center website indicates the Center doesn’t even offer Raise-the-Bar training. As of the date of this letter and for months prior, their “Education and Outreach” page does not list a bar-training component or offering. The Center has P.A.C.T.—directed, appropriately, at on-campus behavior—and gender violence education, without a training component directed at off-campus institutions. 

Despite the fact that Duke does not appear to offer Raise-the-Bar training, my representative tried for weeks to connect with Duke to arrange the training through Duke because I had been accused of refusing to work with Duke on it. I finally gave up and hired a private consultant with expertise in rape-crisis community education and Raise-the-Bar training. My full staff received focused and targeted DFSA training on Saturday, January 5, 2019. 

I was unfairly criticized and targeted by Chris Camp, Trey Walk, Kelsey Shelofsky, Alec Wall, and others, in the Duke Men’s Project Town Hall meeting as reported in the Chronicle. As people who claim to care about building community, I would have expected these individuals, especially those concerned with respecting and empowering women, and the Duke Men’s Project, to have reached out to me (a female, native Durham entrepreneur) and initiated a positive and constructive dialogue for the benefit of Duke students and the Durham community. Especially Mr. Walk, who knows that you cannot always rely on traditional methods of town-gown communications to achieve community dialogue and community solutions, and Ms. Shelofsky who appears to be dedicated to women’s empowerment. I would like to think they, like all Duke students I know, want to engage with local institutions in constructive, not destructive, ways to make a positive difference in the community. 

I would like to know what other Durham institutions and establishments have done, or agreed to do, on bystander intervention, DFSA, or sexual harassment training. What other Durham businesses frequented by Duke students have been contacted about such training? 

I love the students who come to Shooters. I keep in touch with them when they on leaves, breaks and graduate. I know and keep in touch with their parents. Among many charitable contributions I’ve made, I have supported Duke students with medical issues, including going to New York for the funeral of one lovely young man who died from cancer. I am deeply disturbed that I (a native North Carolinian), my employees (local residents), and my business (a staple in the Durham and Duke communities for over 20 years) have been unfairly maligned and defamed, particularly when off-campus parties at remote farms, with no security or sober adult presence, go unchallenged. 

Kim Cates is the owner of Shooters II Saloon in Durham. 

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