Leah Robayo — September 8, 2021

The Red Zone: 20 Yards in Football. 10 Weeks in the Fall.

Leah Robayo

What Is The Red Zone?

There is no feeling like being a college freshman. You are pursuing a higher education, moving to a new place, and are on your own for the first time. Fall semester is filled with parties, tailgating, rush week, and many more social events. The excitement and newness are exhilarating. You are finally coming into your own. While you should celebrate this new phase of life and enjoy every moment, it is also important to be aware of this time on campus. 

While both women and men from ages 18-24 are at an increased risk of sexual assault, college life adds greater risk.

One in five female students, one in sixteen male students, and one in two transgender students experience attempted sexual assault during the time they are in college. Most of these assaults are by a person known to the victim. Fifty percent of these sexual assault reports happen during the Red Zone. 

The Red Zone is known as the time from August move-in to Thanksgiving break.

While college and campus life has a statistically increased risk of sexual assault, it is especially prevalent during this time. Unfortunately, college freshmen and transfer students are particularly at risk. They are unfamiliar with campus, in a new environment, and unaware of resources. The following statistics were taken from RAINN:

  • 13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).
  • Among graduate and professional students, 9.7% of females and 2.5% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
  • Among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
  • 5.8% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.

These statistics can be scary, however, it is important to enjoy yourself during college.

So, what are some smart steps you can take to protect yourself?

  1. Know what your boundaries are before you go out. 
    1. Do you plan on having sex tonight? 
    2. Do you just want to hangout with the people you already know or meet someone new? 
    3. Do you plan on consuming alcohol? If so, how much do you feel is a comfortable amount for you?
    4. Make an action plan – what will you do if you feel your boundaries have been crossed.
  2. Plan on going and leaving with the same trusted group. Stay with those friends and look out for each other.
  3. Have your Resident Advisors number in your phone for emergency situations. They are there to help. 
  4. Familiarize yourself with transportation in your new town. 
    1. Fraternities often have pledges offering rides to and from their parties, but ask yourself – do you feel safe getting in that car? 
    2. Know alternative routes home if that makes you uncomfortable. What is your campus bus schedule? Is it safe to walk? Is a friend the designated driver? Are Uber or Lyft available? Is the surrounding town/city offering public transportation (train/subway/bus)? 
  5. Keep track of your drink:
    1. Count the drinks you have had.
    2. If you put a drink down, do not pick it up.
    3. Cover your drink with your hand when not actively consuming.
    4. Don’t drink ANYTHING you have not seen made.
    5. EAT if you are going to drink at a party. 
  6. Familiarize yourself not just with your school’s resources, but also the town’s or city’s resources.
    1. Campus security
    2. Sexual assault support groups
    3. Victim advocate groups
    4. Counseling services/offices
    5. Title IX offices
    6. Nearby hospitals/clinics

Most importantly, remember that your consent is not based on what you wear, how much you had to drink, or any other outside factor. Consent is yours alone to give enthusiastically. You deserve to feel unconditionally respected and safe in every sexual situation. 

If you are a survivor and are returning to campus, be patient with yourself. The hateful voices can be loud, but your community of support will be louder. You alone have the power to decide what happens next. You do not have to do anything you do not want to do. Should you choose to, know that reporting to campus police and the town police are different things. Know that hospitals and clinics near campus are ready to act should you want to report. Know that there are groups on campus who are ready to embrace you in support and love. 

Our Wave will always be here to amplify your voice and make sure you are heard. Remember to prioritize your mental health and take care of yourself during this time. It is okay to withdraw from a class, it is okay to move dorms to feel safe, and it is okay to transfer schools entirely. You play by your own rules and do what you must to take care of yourself. Remember to seek professional help if you need it from therapists available to campus students, therapists through your private health insurance, or from an accessible website like Sesame. Our Wave sees you, hears you, and believes you. We hope you have a safe and exciting fall semester.

Resources for Survivors:

  1. End Rape On Campus
  2. RAINN
  3. Know Your Title IX

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