The Red Zone

For incoming college freshmen, the first couple of months should be full of excitement, nerves, and late nights. However, the reality for many students is this time period is the most dangerous when it comes to experiencing sexual assault. We call this period “The Red Zone”.

The term was first introduced by Robin Warshaw in her 1988 book “I Never Called it Rape” and specifically refers to the length of time from the start of classes to Thanksgiving break when a documented 50% of all college sexual assaults occur. 

Why does it happen? 

There are several factors that go into making this time of year so dangerous for new students. The #MeToo Movement has helped to identify some of those reasons:

  • “The timing of these incidents is not coincidental, the Red Zone time frame coincides with the countless parties celebrating students’ return to campus. 
  • Greek organizations also typically hold their “rush” events for students interested in joining fraternities and sororities during the first couple of months of the semester. 
  • Freshmen are particularly vulnerable because they are unfamiliar with the campus, including where and to whom to report a sexual assault.”

How can you help make your campus safer? 

There are SO many things you can do to make your campus safer! 

To help bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence, you can help by engaging in proactive behaviors. These are things we do or say that illustrate our values to others. Proactive behaviors on a college campus could look like keeping the numbers and information for resources on your phone, challenging harmful jokes, or planning community awareness events. 

You can also act when you see behaviors that you believe could lead to harm! Bystander intervention is a research backed strategy for shutting down harmful behaviors in so many different situations. At The Ion Center, the main bystander intervention program we implement is called Green Dot. Green Dot teaches us to look for the early warning signs of violence, and when we see it, it gives us a number of options to choose from to respond.

  • Direct: This is when we directly tell the person potentially causing the harm to stop. It can also mean checking in directly with the person who is being hurt.
  • Delegate: This is when we get someone else to intervene. Maybe it’s a professor, coach, or security guard, or maybe it’s even just another student who is a bit more direct.
  • Distract: This is when you do anything you can do to pull attention away from a situation.

You can learn more about Green Dot and bystander intervention techniques at greendotgcky.org, or on by following our Green Dot team on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

You can also check out RAINN’s guide to bystander intervention techniques!

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