Bloomington and IU officials took a private tour of Kilroy's Recess on Wednesday afternoon after a weekend of criticism that stemmed from a tweet sent out Friday night from Recess' Twitter account.
“@mcuban come check out your old place! Spoiler: we got rid of the wet t-shirt contests, but kept the underage girls,” the now-deleted tweet read.
Although they were not allowed inside, about 15 community members waited at the edge of Dunnkirk Square, waving signs against rape culture and demanding action from community leaders. They represented organizations that have previously spoken out about Recess’ tweet, such as Monroe County National Organization for Women and College Democrats at IU.
Kilroy's owners, Kevin James Fitzpatrick and Kevin James Duffy, led the tour with about 10 other Kilroy’s representatives.
Although the two owners refused to comment, IU dean of students Lori Reesor said the men stressed in the meeting that the recent tweet did not represent their brand.
“We ask them to demonstrate that and show what their values are,” Reesor said.
Recess communicates a mixed message, Reesor said. Because the club is supposed to cater toward students who want to have fun without drinking, she is unsure why the club needs alcohol at all.
“Wherever they go and wherever they are, I want students to be safe,” Reesor said. "I want our businesses to support that message, and I think that – I hope that – Kilroy’s will do that.”
However, Reesor also said students should understand the values of any organization they like. While she encourages them to speak out if they are offended, she said they should give businesses the chance to apologize.
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton said he thinks the marketing was poor, but it also highlights the role Kilroy's has in a community culture of sexism and alcohol abuse.
“There’s nobody upstairs defending those,” he said.
Junior Hannah Gregory, the NOW Campus Action Network president at IU, made a point to show up to the protest between classes. She said she and other NOW members had heard about the walkthrough from the Monroe County chapter president, who works for the city.
Gregory said she was more surprised by the nightclub’s unapologetic replies to online criticism than she was by the original tweet, but the post still disgusted her.
“Comments like that in predatory establishments such as Kilroy’s need to be fixed,” Gregory said.
Ivy Tech freshman Steven Jewell said he came to show his support for the Bloomington community.
Jewell works at King Dough, which he said has a better atmosphere than a club like Recess and encourages responsible practices like double-checking IDs. From the reputation Kilroy's has, he said he doesn't think they try quite as much.
He said he thinks Recess should be moved away from the bars but also doesn't know if it's necessary for the establishment to exist in the first place.
"There are other places for teens to hang out besides a club," Jewell said.
Although he is 18, Jewell said he has not been to Recess and isn't drawn in by their sugary refreshments.
"I can get candy at the gas station," he said.
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