What Colleges Don’t Advertise

Alyssa Phillips, Print Newspaper Editor

Going to college marks the beginning of a new chapter in a person’s life. The new classes new people, and new possibilities. What many people do not realize are the new dangers, such as sexual assault. The first four months of the fall semester is when the sexual assault occurrences on campuses are highest, with 70 percent of sexual assault cases occurring during this time, with 65 percent of those cases involving first-year students.

These months are what colleges call “The Red Zone”.  The time between arrival and Thanksgiving is when perpetrators are most likely to sexually assault younger students. They occur mostly between midnight and 6 am on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sexual assault goes from unwanted touch to rape.

“Be aware of your surroundings at all times and do not put yourself in compromising situations by overindulging in risky behavior,” Mariane Taylor said.

College is a great place to meet new people and make friends from all around the country, but not every friend you make is looking out for your best interest. According to the Department of Justice, 90 percent of victims were assaulted by an acquaintance or friend. Students should not let the first person they meet at college into their lives because they could be a potential threat. Students must be wary of who they surround themselves with, and to get out of a relationship with someone if they see red flags. When making new friends in college, students must make people earn their trust before becoming friends. If one friend asks to go somewhere alone, ask to take another friend, even if it seems safe because it is impossible to know everyone’s intentions.

Many first-year college students will attend parties, where assault occasionally occurs. They have to be alert, because many people prey on the younger students, waiting until they put their guard down to strike. College parties often involve alcohol, which most freshmen do not have much experience drinking. When they get intoxicated, older students will take this opportunity to exploit them while they have no chance to consent to what they do. Undergraduates have to be careful around alcohol, making sure not to get wasted. If they feel uncomfortable, the best thing to do is to leave the party with trusted friends.

“Never leave a drink unattended or accept one that has already been opened,” assistant principal Katie Jackson said.

The best way to avoid assault is to use assertive behavior. If one encounters an assailant, try to capture the attention of people nearby. If they make a scene, they are less likely to take any action. When going to a vehicle, make sure to lock the doors as soon as you enter. Or when going to your housing, never leave your blinds or curtains open and lock the door when you enter or leave. If for some reason they enter your house or car, make sure to call the police on speaker or record, so they can know your side of the story. Be alert to where you are at all times. If caught in an unfamiliar area that possesses potential danger for you, try to pull up a map of where you are and be cautious of who is around.

“Fight for your life-whatever it takes,” Katie Jackson said. “Call 911 if in danger or hurt. Immediately file a police report.”

If danger approaches, one of the best options is to contact local law enforcement. When on the phone with them, they can direct you to the closest safe and most populated area so you and the perpetrator are not alone. If you do encounter sexual assault or abuse, report it to the police. If you are afraid to come forward to the police, then tell a trustworthy parent or guardian, and they can help direct you to make to the right choice.

“If you are ever assaulted or a witness to an assault you should immediately contact the police and seek medical treatment,” Taylor said. “It should be the police and not campus security. Campus security is not the same as the police and is limited in what they can do.”

When looking into colleges, try to find the reports of sexual assault cases and make sure it is a safe environment. If the statistics are very high, look at a different school that would be safer. For instance, Baylor University has the highest rate of sexual assault cases in Texas, even with it being a private Christian college. It is an important statistic to look into before choosing your college.

“Most people look into the crime statistics of communities before they move to them; it is the same principle,” Jackson said.

One alleged forcible sex offense occurs on campus every 2.5 hours, which amounts to 9.5 daily, 66.5 weekly, and 3,469 yearly. When you go off to college, you will get caught up in all of the new and exciting experiences, but make sure to stay cautious.