Red Zone: prime time for college sexual assaults

Posted at 4 p.m. on August 30, 2019

The Brillion News

OSHKOSH – College students need to know that there is a prime time for sexual assaults on or near campuses – and the start of the fall semester is the time.

At the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the university is focusing on preventing sexual assaults on students as the school year begins.

The Red Zone initiative starts Friday, Aug. 30, and continues through Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 18-19.

The “red zone” is shorthand for the time at the beginning of the school year when a disproportionate number of campus sexual assaults take place.

The Department of Justice has identified the period between students’ arrival on campus in late August and Thanksgiving break as the stretch of time when students are more likely to be assaulted than at any other point in their college careers. During that time, the majority of assaults occur between midnight and 6 a.m., on Saturdays.

The Red Zone initiative includes:

>> Increased police/security presence in known areas of vulnerability on and near campus. >> Strict enforcement of any alcohol violations. >> Required next day follow-ups by police with anyone who was incapacitated by alcohol. The follow-up provides education to the community member, the citation and an initiative card. >> Encouraged next day follow-up by police for any students who received underage drinking citations. Next day follow-up gives students a better understanding of the consequences of their actions versus having such discussions when they’re still impaired. >> Mandatory social contacts with students who appear to engage in unwanted or illegal behaviors. >> Increased attendance at Coffee With a Cop and the Oshkosh Police Department shift briefings to increase collaboration and area awareness.

According to a 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study, more than 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur in August, September, October, or November. The survey also showed that women are mostly likely to be victimized early in their college tenure.

One great option for UW-Oshkosh students is the SafeWalk or SafeRide program on campus.

It provides trained Community Service Officers (CSOs) to safely escort campus community members on and around campus during the evening and night hours.

The CSOs are trained in defensive tactics, they patrol in pairs and they have a direct link to the Police Department through police radios.

In an effort to alleviate fears of requesting an escort while intoxicated, no questions are asked unless the welfare of the requester, the CSOs or the general public is in question.

SafeWalks are available every evening, SafeRides are available as often as possible but currently the UWO is not offering it every night. Students needing this service should give campus police a call or use the app to make a request and a dispatcher will explain what options are available that night. Use UWO Mobile to “Chat w/UWOPD” or call the UW Oshkosh Police Department at 920-424-1212 to request a walk or ride.

Most college campuses have similar programs. New students should make the effort to learn about them as soon as they arrive on campus. Parents should also find out what programs are available to reduce the chance of a student becoming a sexual assault victim.

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