College is like embarking on a new adventure (I mean, I guess it is, right?). There's new people, new faces, new places to get accustomed to - it can get scary. That being said, as we enter into the fifth week of college, or just around there, a lot of campuses are talking about "The Red Zone," and why we should be aware of it as college students.
Ball State University came up with this presentation for their "Red Zone Awareness Campaign." In a few words, it's the six first weeks of college in the fall semester that has the highest number of cases of sexual assault on college campuses across the country. A local Georgia publication calls the red zone the "first six weeks for incoming freshman where rape is considered." If you google "Red Zone College," the results are pretty much the same.
So, why is this an issue, besides the obvious, "assault is bad,? Let's break it down.
Jody K. Althouse, Director of Outreach and Education states that "college students are one of the most vulnerable age groups for sexual assault." This means that the red zone, mentioned before, is the time when freshman women are most likely to experience rape, attempted rape or other forms of sexual assault. According to studies, Althouse states that "female students are at an increased risk for sexual assault. . .most college students who are sexually assaulted are victimized by someone they know."
The red zone doesn't just apply to acquaintance rape, though. There are, of course, cases of stranger rape, such as the Brock Turner case. But, acquaintance rape seems to be the most prevalent in college cases. Althouse says that acquaintance rape "is often misunderstood. . .there is a common misconception that acquaintance rape is not as serious, not as criminal, and not as traumatic to the victim as stranger rape." The fact that this form of rape could be seen as lesser than another from is shocking, because while it's the most common - it's the kind that most people will try to ignore because of the trauma.
Now, on to stranger rape. A New York Times article from 2014 shows a story about Hobart and William Smith Colleges, revealing a report of an alleged sexual assault done by multiple members of the school's football team onto a freshman at the school. It's reported that she was found by her friend, bent over a pool-table with a football player sexually assaulting her - in front of a group of people. Records from a sexual-assault nurse show that there was blunt force trauma indicating forced intercourse. But, as you'd expect (based on today's latest sexual assault cases), the football players denied the assault, even when evidence proved otherwise. And, as you'd expect even more, the players were cleared, and went on to go undefeated in their conference. The alleged student made a video talking about the experience.
So, how do we fix this alleged "red zone?" The answer is easy: you can't. There are always going to be students who target other students. Sexual assault doesn't just go away, even though we want it to. The Department of Justice found that more than 50% of college sexual assaults occur between August and November. That's not even the entire fall semester! This study done by the Department of Justice also states that 13.7% of undergraduate women have been victims of at least one complete sexual assault since entering college. At least one. A study done in 2008, seen in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, also showed staggering results, like more women than men (53% to 6%) reported they had experienced at least one unwanted sexual encounter.
There are ways to stay educated on the issue though. There are advocacy groups like End Rape on Campus that aim to end campus sexual violence that are helpful in providing information on what to do, how to stop sexual assault, how to reform policies on campus, etc. It's important to recognize the red zone, but more important to stop the assaults that happen in the red zone from occurring. Bystanders matter here. An article by NBC titled "What You Need to Know About the 'Red Zone,' When Campus Sexual Assaults Spike," talks about using bystander intervention training to help prevent these events from happening. They talk about Penn State having a program that trains students "on how to effectively step in when someone is in a dangerous situation." Something else the article describes doing is using the buddy system. Never go somewhere alone, it's pretty simple. By using this system, their risk of being assaulted is lessened, because there's someone there to keep them in check, or the other way around if something bad does seem to be happening. It's also important to know your surroundings as an individual; even though we cannot blame the clothing choices or the way someone is acting, we need to respond to someone else possibly blaming these choices as a go-ahead for actions.
So, there's a little brief on the red zone. If your school doesn't seem to have any information on the red zone, or how to combat it, check with your advisers and deans! You never know who has the information, and you never know who you can ask for help. Hopefully this shed a little light onto the issues that occur on or off your campus.
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