Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and this is the U.P., maybe you have), you’ve surely seen pictures online from various college fraternities across the country. Pictures of signs that say things like, “HOPE YOUR BABY GIRL IS READY FOR A GOOD TIME… FRESHMAN DROP OFF HERE” (found at Old Dominion University) and “SHE CALLED YOU DADDY FOR 18 YEARS, NOW IT’S OUR TURN” (West Virginia University) as well as shirts labelling the wearer “Freshman Slayer.”
While some may think this is “all in good fun” or “boys being boys,” these uncomfortable signs and shirts that welcome incoming freshmen actually shed light on one of the most dangerous times in a woman’s life. This time is dubbed “The Red Zone.”
According to Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), “The Red Zone” is when more than 50 percent of college rapes and assaults will take place. According to RAINN, more than 11 percent of all graduate and undergraduate students “experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.” This includes male students and gender nonconforming students, but is
mostly comprised of female students. As a group, female students show the biggest increase in risk of sexual assault and rape upon entering college, with the likelihood of an incident tripling once they hit campus. As RAINN informs us, 23 percent of female undergraduate students will be raped during their time in college, followed by transgender, genderqueer and nonconforming at 21 percent and male students at just over 5
Many people think rape and sexual assault will occur when they’re walking back to the dorms. They imagine that some masked pervert will lunge from the bushes. Contrary to this assumption, the National Institution of Justice reports that more than 90 percent of college sexual assault victims know their assaulter. Further, their reports have indicated that 74 percent of these attacks occur in campus housing. In the aforementioned RAINN study, it’s revealed that only 11 percent of the heinous incidents will be reported (in the case of the victim being female.) The reasons cited for not coming forward to authorities include fear of reprisal or belief that the police would cover up the incident, that the incident wasn’t important and that rape is a “personal matter.”
Please, students here at Northern Michigan University, report any incident. I implore you to report any sexual assault or rape to campus police or to the Marquette Police. If you only feel comfortable reporting it to your RA: they’re mandatory reporters and have access to resources to help victims. If any of your friends talk to you about unwanted sexual attention, touching, etc., please tell someone. We can’t let this culture of secrecy and shame surrounding victims continue. Your allegations will be taken very seriously and you will receive support. You don’t have to go through this alone.