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Film Opponents Say Promotes Sexual Assault To Be Shown on N.C. Campus, Protests Planned

Despite a call from the Women's Center, the film version of author Tucker Max's book "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" will be shown Wednesday at North Carolina State University.

Advocates who wanted the film showing canceled met with Union Activities Board Film Committee Chair Will Lamb and others in the UAB office Monday to discuss the implications of the movie and the question and answer session with Max, which is scheduled to follow the movie.

Rape Prevention Education Coordinator Juliette Grimmett, who works at the Women's Center, said the Center was notified the film would be shown on campus three weeks ago, but said the Center wasn't aware of how offensive the content of the film would be until a concerned student e-mailed her.

"It was on my radar but the way Rick [Gardner] said it and described it, it didn't seem to be a major red flag," Grimmett said of her meeting with Associate Director of Campus Activities Rick Gardner, which she said occurred in passing in between meetings. "It didnt even occur to me that there was anybody out there like [Max.]"

Grimmett said the original plan was to have Pack PEERs hold a booth during the film's showing, but said she realized it was more serious than she thought.

"I don't think it's as easy as having a couple peers to sit at a table," Grimmett said.

Both Grimmett and Women's Center Director Shannon Johnson said the weeks since the meeting were "busy," preventing them from following up more closely with Gardner or the Films Committee about the plans for the film.

"We became aware of the extremity of the offensiveness Thursday morning," Johnson said.

Johnson said though no one at Monday's meeting had seen the movie, and only one counselor attending the meeting had read Max's book that inspired the movie, the postings on his blog and the trailer for the movie were enough for the Center to know that the movie would be offensive.

Johnson said the trailer contains sexist and racist phrases–phrases she says are intended to dehumanize and perpetuate a rape culture. Max's book is filled mostly with stories of him and his exploits with women, some of which, according to Grimmett and Johnson, would be considered felonious acts under North Carolina law.

"He views women as objects," Johnson said. "He's only out to get as much sex as he can at any cost."

Technician reported Monday that Chair of the Issues and Idea Board Matt Woodward filed for a permit and planned to stage a protest during the film's showing. Gardner, Woodward's adviser, said Woodward did not follow procedure with this request.

The Women's Center and other advocating groups have now requested permits and will be staging a silent protest on Harris Field during the showing of the film and a candlelight vigil to honor rape and sexual assault victims following the event.

"Since we couldn't cancel it we wanted to give [students] the opportunity to know first-hand what they're walking into," Grimmett said. "My fear was that you'll have students that go to this even if they think they know the extent [of the offensiveness] and realize that he's talking about acts that mean the definition of rape. We want them to know that there's a community at N.C. State that doesn't support this person and what he does."

The Women's Center has also asked for those who leave the film because of it's offensive content to have their money refunded, something Lamb said will happen. The Center also asked for the $400 UAB will make from hosting the film to be donated to an area sexual assault victim advocacy group. Lamb said the group is still hammering out the details of such a donation but said there was a "pretty good chance" it will happen.

Grimmett said making the protest a silent one was due to many factors.

"Those of us that are protesting believe in a world of peace and nonviolence," Grimmett said. "I like to be transparent in that I do and live the way I believe the world should be and I believe a lot of our supporters believe that too. The solution isn't to be aggressive and violent in response but to be peaceful folks that are there. It's not about screaming and having a shouting match."

She said students are invited to come to the Women's Center Wednesday to make signs for the protest.

"[The protest is] intended for survivors to have a voice or to be seen in the candlelight vigil," Grimmett said.

Grimmett said she received about 15 e-mails initially about the film asking what the Center planned to do about the film showing and another 18 posts on Facebook after the word got out. She said a couple of students were involved in the plans for the protest as well.

"It wasn't like we got a huge group of students together and did a survey of what the best avenue would be," Grimmett said.

Grimmett said no one from the Women's Center will be attending the film or the Q&A, though she would if she didn't have family commitments planned already for that night.

"I have no interest in asking him questions," Grimmett said. "I don't feel it's helpful at all to get into those debates, and, having worked with college students for many years, I don't think that's the best use of our resources."

Grimmett said speaking to the large crowd may not be an effective way to present the Center's view.

"I don't think me standing there and asking a question will matter to a room of people who think he's hilarious," she said. "It really requires a lot more one-on-one, peer-peer discussion."

Grimmett said the protest was mostly about Max and what he represents.

"We are absolutely there to protest Tucker Max–the fact he's been brought to campus," Grimmett said. "We're protesting everything about Tucker Max and what he stands for."

Lamb said he felt having the protest was justified, and that the backdrop of the movie provided an opportunity for education.

"I think people have as much right to protest as he does to come to campus and show his film," Lamb said. "It's definitely something that draws attention to the cause of the Women's Center and various other gropus on campus."

Grimmett said the protest and vigil were there to offer support for those offended and to educate the campus.

"My concern is the students on the campus," Grimmett said. "If one student is empowered by our protest, that's what matters to me."