RED ZONE: Avoid sexual assault by partying safely

Fact: Most sexual assaults on campuses involve alcohol. Many parties also involve alcohol, and when students party — especially freshmen — things can get dangerous. But there are ways to be safer and smarter about sex and partying to prevent becoming a victim or offender.

The weeks leading to Thanksgiving are a particularly dangerous time for incoming freshmen, and this time period has become known as the “Red Zone.” According to a Campus Sexual Assault study conducted in 2007, this time period is characterized by the highest rate of campus sexual assaults, mostly involving college freshmen.

These statistics, while influenced by several factors, can result from students trying to fit in amongst a new group of people, having less supervision and being unfamiliar with surroundings and situations. Most of the sexual assaults that arise from this happen because of alcohol — according to Core Institute, alcohol is a factor in 90 percent of campus rapes. The Core Institute also reports that 73 percent of college students drink at least occasionally, and that puts many students at risk.

Knowing the principles of consent is the first step to preventing sexual assault. Scott Hampton, director of Ending the Violence for the Consexuality Project, outlined four principles regarding consent, shown to the right.

While drinking and partying, remember to always trust yourself and to not give in to peer pressure. Alcohol is not required to have fun, and judgment is impaired while drinking. Remembering these things can keep one out of a lot of trouble.

“Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re so far out of it that you don’t know what you’re doing to yourself,” said University Police Department Chief Rick Shell.

If you want to drink at a party, try to bring a person you trust along with you. This person can help look after you and make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of.

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“If you’re going to parties, have somebody with you that can help. … Kinda like a safety partner,” Shell said. “So that if one of you does get too far off, the other can help out and … protect you from the predators that may be out there.”

“Teach your friends to be good bystanders,” said Jerry Trew, a Title IX investigator at UAA.

University Police Department detective Teresa Denette suggests letting someone know if you are going out, as well as where you will be going and who you’re going with. She also suggests that individuals avoid leaving drinks unattended or accepting drinks from strangers.

A brochure from BACCHUS & GAMMA Peer Education Network says, “Be extra careful getting into sexual situations when you’ve been drinking. Alcohol abuse sometimes leads people into sexual situations they may have avoided if they were sober.”

Always have a plan of how you will leave the party either at the end of the night, or if something is going wrong or you don’t feel safe. Don’t ever leave a party alone with someone you have just met, either.

You can even download a mobile application called “circleof6,” which allows users to just tap their phones twice to send six user-selected people a message that says, “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely. Call when you’re close. My location is near: (link to your location).”

The app also has hotline numbers for a variety of issues including rape, sexual abuse, relationship abuse and more.

UPD suggests contacting the law enforcement if you believe someone has tried or has sexually assaulted you. Immediately go to the nearest hospital if you have been hurt.

“Contact the police department that wouldhave the jurisdiction over it,” Shell said. “So if it happens on campus, it would be us (UPD), 786-1120, or 911 if it’s happening right then, or the Anchorage Police Department — it’s 786-8900.”

Denette said that once one notifies the police of a sexual assault, the victim will be taken to the nearest Sexual Assault Response Team Center and will see a forensic nurse.

“I encourage you to report it immediately to the police, so an investigation can be completed,” Denette said.

Shell said students who may be apprehensive about involving law enforcement alternatively report the incident to the Dean of Students Office, which will also provide resources for the victim as well.