RED ZONE: An introduction to the 2017 Red Zone series

The first 13 weeks of any new academic year contain a multitude of life events. New friends are made, classes are added and dropped, clubs are joined, midterms are studied for… Within these 13 exciting weeks, however, more sexual assaults occur on campuses in the United States than at any other time during the collegiate school year. This is known as the Red Zone.

Sexual assault is becoming a more frequently discussed topic, not just around colleges, but in popular media as well. Celebrity cases where victims speak out and take their harassers to court, or where individuals are accused of numerous counts of sexual assault, are beginning to broaden the conversation beyond the Title IX office.

The broadening of the audience discussing sexual assault may remove the stigma frequently surrounding victims and their experiences, and this is why The Northern Light is continuing the Red Zone series into its fourth year. The more a community encourages victims to step forward and discuss their experiences, or even tell someone trusted that something has happened, the less likely these crimes are to go unheard and unsolved.

Throughout the four years of our series, The Northern Light has covered how to get help when you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, news related to how the state handles sexual assault cases, gender and presentation issues leading to concerns over bathroom usage, sentencing issues throughout the country and more. As the next semester continues, we hope to provide more information on a growing variety of topical issues.

Most importantly, the goal of the series is to provide information to all readers about sexual assault and share the voices of students and community members who may feel lost or forgotten. The stigmatization of victims causes this silence, and this series aims to eliminate that by refusing to be silent.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, please contact the University Police Department at 907-786-1120 or the Title IX office at 907-786-4680.