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PSA on The Red Zone: What students need to know about sexual assault on campus

Photo by Claire Keener

What is the Red Zone?

The Red Zone refers to the increased amount of sexual assault and violence that occurs during the first six-to-ten week period of school during the fall semester on college campuses.

According to Inside Higher Ed, 50% of all college sexual assaults occur during this timeframe. Researchers report that this can often be credited to the higher number of parties and events that occur before midterms, and a generally higher rate of alcohol and substance use. 

Who does The Red Zone affect?

Research shows that freshman students are particularly vulnerable because they are often unfamiliar with their new surroundings on campus, including safety resources. 

A study by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) states that,: “Students are at an increased risk during the first few months of their first and second semesters in college.”

According to RAINN, 23.1% of female undergrads, 21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, and nonconforming) students and 5.4% of male students experience sexual assault.

Why is this year different?

This fall will be the first semester that most universities are “back to normal” and conducting fully in-person classes with fewer health and safety restrictions on campus since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

This means that not only is Boise State inducting in a new class of freshman students, but is also welcoming in an entire class of sophomore students who have not yet had the full “college experience” in terms of class offerings, university events and general campus operations. 

“Colleges and universities will also be grappling with the return of older students, who, understandably, feel like they missed out on a year of a traditional college experience. There will be a desire to make up for lost time, which may result in increased partying, heavier drinking, and more casual sexual activity,” said Tracey Vitchers, the executive director of It’s On Us, an advocacy program started to combat campus sexual assault, in an article for Forbes.

[Photo of a Blue Light emergency phone stand on Boise State campus]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

During the It’s On Us National Student Leadership Summit on July 29, even President Biden called on college students to help prevent sexual assault, specifying increased concerns during a time of increased vulnerability due to COVID-19 and related pandemic situations.

“I knew then, and we know now, that we needed to change, change the culture, when it comes to sexual assault. And changing the culture requires all of us, all of us, to get engaged — especially young men, who too often stand on the sidelines. To step in, speak out, make sure everybody knows your campus does not tolerate sexual abuse,” Biden said at the summit, as reported by CNN.

What can you do?

  1. Educate and advocate for active consent.

According to Promoting Awareness | Victim Empowerment (PAVE), active consent can be described with the following terms:

“Consent MOVES!

  • Mutual – consent needs to be mutual without coercion.
  • Ongoing – anyone can change their mind at any time.
  • Verbal – while body language can give you a clue as to whether your partner is interested, verbal consent is necessary to be respectfully intimate.
  • Enthusiastic – consent is much more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If you sense any hesitation from your partner, stop and ask how they are feeling.
  • Sober – If your partner is intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, you can never be sure if you are respecting their wishing. Consent cannot be given by someone who is under the influence.”

Silence or unclear expressions like “umm” or “maybe later” are NOT consent.

  1. Learn more about Rape Culture and stand up against it.

This article from U.N. Women is a great educational resource to learn more about the different facets of Rape Culture and how you can help combat it. 

This piece by Maija Kappler via The Huffington Post also shares a lot of insightful information on the topic. 

  1. Familiarize yourself with campus resources

Safety and Prevention Resources

  • Download the Rave Guardian Safety App – This app allows you to submit reports and contact Public Safety directly. 
  • Utilize Security Escorts – Public Safety provides a 24/7 security escort program for students and staff. Just call (208) 426-6911.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Emergency Blue Light Phones – Blue light phone stands can be found throughout campus and can be used to contact campus security dispatch.
  • Sign up for BroncoAlerts – BroncoAlert is a text-based notification system that Boise State uses to inform students of public safety concerns and announcements.

Support & Reporting Resources

The Boise State Office of Institutional Compliance and Ethics handles all Title IX-related issues

University Counseling Services provides counseling and mental health services. Located in the Norco Building. Visit their website for more information and resources.

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