The Red Zone and You

With the school year fast approaching many schools, St. John’s included, prepare to welcome a slew of new faces to their campuses. As their predecessors before them, hordes of college freshmen will move into their dorm rooms eager to have their first taste of “freedom”. We’ve all been there, of course, and precisely because of that we need to be proactive about informing the new class of the potential ugly side of college.

The Red Zone. Now don’t get confused with St. John’s student spirit group RedZone because this Red Zone isn’t fun. The Red Zone is defined as the first six weeks of a college freshman’s time on campus, from the beginning of classes until about Thanksgiving break, in which they are most vulnerable to be sexually assaulted. Not to say that sexual assault in college only happens freshman year because that’s a lie but as many studies have shown, including one funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, that September and October are the most common months for sexual assaults on college campuses.

You may wonder why this is and for you upperclassmen all I ask is that you think back to your own freshman year. How many nights did you spend at Trads or Parsons, washing that “X” off the back of your hand in the bathroom as soon as you got in? How often did you find yourself on a train heading to Manhattan with your new suitemates? Almost as soon as you step onto campus for the first time there seems to be this invisible pressure to make the most of your freshman year and when you go to college in New York City that pressure seems to double because well you live in New York City! You’ve chosen to attend school in one of the most iconic cities in the world and it’s unfathomable to some people that you would just chose to ignore the nightlife that so many people only dream of experiencing.

Whether you’re into the party scene or not, chances are you’re going to be curious about the city you will now call home for the next nine months. You’re going to try and find your niche and that will likely involve you trying new things that you might not have tried as a high school student. You’ll put yourself out there more than you might usually do because you’re surrounded by an entirely new population than that of your hometown.

We’ve all been given the “always guard your drink at a bar/party” speech and while that is a good piece of advice, don’t assume that because you don’t drink or party that you’re protected from sexual assault. When we’re young we always like to think ourselves invincible and untouchable but recognize that the threat is real and it can happen to anyone. According to the National Sexual Violence Resources Center, in 2015, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college.

 If you’re new to New York, by all means explore it and see all that it has to offer you but be careful even if you’re actively avoiding looking like a tourist while walking around Manhattan with Google maps open, it’s better than ending up in a sketchy looking street because you didn’t know where you were going.

For the upperclassmen reading this, while your freshman year has come and gone that doesn’t mean it can’t happen you or that there’s nothing you can do to help someone who might have become a victim of sexual assault. Learn to recognize the signs of sexual assault and how to help the victim; don’t just be another bystander.