What every college student needs to know about the 'red zone'

Suzanne Monaghan
August 23, 2018 - 9:54 pm
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Anthony Souffle/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Heading off to college is an exciting time, marking a turning point in life.  

But it's also a dangerous time. The majority of campus sexual assaults occur between the start of the school year and Thanksgiving break, a six-week period of time known as the "red zone."

Many colleges have spearheaded education programs to help raise awareness of the danger.

"Besides it being a new environment and trying to make new friends and trying to get your wherewithal in this completely new environment that you're in, is all of the get-togethers with the sororities, fraternities and the events that they have on the campuses themselves," said Gloria Marcott, a self-defense instructor who teaches many college students.  

She said freshmen are the most at-risk: They have yet to make close enough friends to watch out for them, and they usually have little experience drinking alcohol.

"And unfortunately, over 80 percent of the time when sexual assault occurs is when there is alcohol involved," she added.

Many universities have started bystander intervention programs — including Drexel, Penn and Temple — encouraging students to intervene when they see a potentially troubling situation. 

Tips to avoid being assaulted are often criticized for putting the responsibility on the victim. But Marcott said it's about empowerment.

"Let people know where you're going. Pay attention to your surroundings and if there is alcohol involved, if at all possible, just don't go there. I know it's appealing, especially on the freshman level, but the fact is that it diminishes your skills and your response time," she advised.