During the past month, new high school graduates stepped onto campus and entered the realm of semi-adulthood. While freshman college students are eager to experience the infinite freedom and opportunity that their new college life brings, they are often unaware of the potential risks associated with this new environment. The risk of campus sexual assault may be overlooked.
Studies reveal that female freshmen students are at a far greater risk of being sexually assaulted than upperclassmen. Unfamiliar with their new campus and peers, these women become a prime target during the first month and a half of college, often referred to as the “red zone.”
The red zone is the time period in which women are most likely to be sexually assaulted, lasting six weeks—typically from the time a first year student walks onto campus until the end of September. In fact, most women who have been sexually assaulted during college reported that it occurred early on in their college career. The vulnerability of first year students is heightened not only due to the stress and excitement of college, but also because many students have moved far from their hometown. As students meet new friends and adjust to their new environment, they must understand the realities and potential risks of this new stage of life.
Many colleges use orientation to give new students important information. This may include everything from the location of the student recreational center to discussing campus sexual assault. But with the excitement of new friends and freedom, this information is often forgotten just as quickly as it is relayed. While resources and accommodations are available for survivors of campus sexual assault, most students remain unaware or oblivious to their options until they find themselves directly involved in a sexual assault. Students need to understand what the Title IX office on campus is for and what resources the school has for its students.
Sexual Assault Can Happen to Anyone
Students need to understand that no one is immune to sexual assault. Statistics show that one in five women will be sexually assaulted during college and typically the assailant will be someone she knows. Among college women, nine out of ten victims of sexual assault knew their offender. An assailant could be a seemingly trustworthy friend met during orientation or a classmate that lives in the same dormitory. Campus sexual assaults are rarely committed through random acts by strangers. This could happen to anyone.
Although college is an exciting time for young adults, students need to understand the real risks and dangers intertwined in this new environment. Rather than suggesting that the college experience is all positive, colleges need to help their students understand the bigger picture. They need to warn students of the risk of campus sexual assault and encourage students to be aware of the increased risks facing female students during the red zone. Promoting awareness enables students to enter the college arena with a clear perspective—looking out for themselves and others as they undertake the opportunities and challenges their new home brings.
Lawyers at Cory Watson Attorneys stand beside survivors of campus sexual assault. Contact Cory Watson Attorneys today for your confidential, free legal consultation. To find out more about campus safety tips, click here.