TW/CW: Mentions of sexual assault
As students ease back into in-person campus life, it’s important to recognize that students are partying more and freshmen are being introduced to an unknown campus culture. This means sexual assault rates are statistically higher. This time period on college campuses is called “The Red Zone,” which can span from the beginning of the fall semester until Thanksgiving break. During this time, more than 50% of campus sexual assaults occur and statistics of sexual assault remain alarmingly high on college campuses. 1 in 5 women, 1 in 13 men, and 1 in 4 gender nonconforming students will be sexually assaulted during their college career in the United States.
Events such as Greek Life rush functions, weekend socials at Pots, and house parties are part of the Florida State University experience for many students during the fall semester. It is during or after these events that students become more vulnerable to sexual assault, and many young people face confusing, difficult personal situations alongside the trials of transitioning to college life.
“The Red Zone” exists as a reminder that sexual assault is occurring on college campuses more often than college communities are willing to acknowledge or prevent. The beginning of fall semester is a period of adjustment and change where students are meeting new professors, making new friends, and trying new things. The last thing any college student wants is for sexual assault to occur to them or someone close to them during this time of excitement and new experiences.
Freshmen are particularly vulnerable during this time as new arrivals to campus life because they don’t know where to report sexual assault. Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with the scenario of a freshman drinking too much at their first college party and receiving “help” from an older college student whose intentions are far from clear. A U.S. Department of Justice study of nine colleges found that 629 sexual assaults occurred among first-year students in September and October 2014, which was more than the assaults that occurred during the next four months combined, when 521 sex assaults were reported by first-year students.
Amidst The Red Zone fears and confusion, as well as increased freedom at college, it is crucial for college students to be proactive in their sexual safety and boundaries. Considering your sexual desires and limits, verbally communicating with sexual partners in terms of consent and comfortability, and trusting yourself when you’re feeling unsafe or unsure about a sexual encounter are some of the ways that college students can play an active role in pursuing safe, pleasurable sex instead of the alternative.
Florida State University offers the kNOw MORE program to support survivors of sexual assault and power-based violence on campus. Whether you are looking to talk to someone, report an incident, support a survivor, or looking for more resources, this program may help guide you.
Additionally, Florida State University offers bystander intervention training called Green Dot to empower students to speak up and help others who may face sexual harassment or assault during The Red Zone period. Learn more about how you can combat sexual assault on FSU’s campus by training with Green Dot.
Alongside available campus resources, third party resources like Callisto are available to students. Callisto is a nonprofit organization that seeks to combat sexual assault, support survivors, and advance justice through technology. Callisto offers survivors encrypted reporting tools such as a recording system and matching system as well as other options for healing and justice after assault. Callisto’s vision is a world where sexual assault is rare and survivors are supported.
Too often, survivors of sexual assault on college campuses will continue to push through their academic workloads and continue attending parties in order to convince themselves that nothing happened. If you are a survivor of sexual assault, allow yourself the space to heal and process your experience. In order to grow as a community that addresses and prevents sexual assault, we must uplift this silenced topic from the shadows of college life and hold perpetrators accountable for the unsafe conditions they perpetuate on and off campus.