by Kiera Przygoda
As we start a new semester here on Rocky Top, we are in the Red Zone. The term Red Zone is used to describe the period of time when students are statistically most at risk of sexual assault, from the beginning of the semester until Thanksgiving break. We are here to break down the facts and support that will be available for students on campus.
Did you know
Most sexual assaults are committed by a person known to the survivor (). Sexual assault can happen to anyone.
In 2017, 3 percent of our students reported unwanted sexual contact while a member of the community. (UT Knoxville Campus Climate Survey, 2017). For more than 90 percent of those who reported a sexual assault to UT last year, their sexual assault involved someone they knew. (UT Knoxville Title IX Annual Report, 2018).
There are many resources on campus to help the students who have experienced, or know someone who has experienced, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking, and retaliation. The Office of Title IX can work with you to provide supports and resources both on and off campus. If you would like to speak to a confidential resource you can reach out or drop in to the Student Counseling Center. Additionally, after hours you can call 865-974-HELP to speak to a confidential resource.
On our campus and in our community, Vols Help Vols, which means as Volunteers we look out for one another. When you see someone who might be at risk, be an active bystander and ACT (Acknowledge the situation, Consider your options, Take Action!).
Starting the Conversation
- Ask students if they are aware of the Red Zone. Do they know what it means? Have they taken the pledge to be an ACTive bystander? Encourage them to join us at one of our events.
- Start by identifying consent as an everyday practice. We all practice consent when it comes to phones, cars, and other physical belongings. Those principles can easily transfer to our bodies.
- Remain non-judgmental about students’ choice to engage in sexual activity. A student’s choice to engage in sexual activity does not mean they are asking to be assaulted. By creating a culture of acceptance and consent, we can encourage our campus to be a place of safety, free from sexual assault.
- Be an ACTive bystander. As employees of the university, we have clear job descriptions that outline our daily activities. However, an ACTive bystander takes responsibility in every situation to intervene if someone is at risk.
The Center for Health Education & Wellness will be hosting Red Zone pop-up events throughout September, beginning with World Sexual Health Day on September 4! Follow @volshelpvols on social media for more information about times and locations. At Red Zone events, you can learn how to be an active bystander and ask for consent. Those who pledge to Speak UP! when someone is at risk will receive a free t-shirt! Make sure to look out for the events, you won’t want to miss them!
Amanda McClellan, a program consultant for Interpersonal Wellness at the Student Health Center, reminds us that “The Volunteer spirit means we are actively engaged in our community! Take notice of situations where it seems like someone could be at risk and speak up!”
Kiera Przygoda is a senior at UT majoring in communication studies. She is the undergraduate public relations intern for the Office of Communication and Marketing. She has a passion for writing and media and a love for Disney. Kiera is also a student assistant at SEC Network and VFL Films.