Women’s Center | Photo by Rose Taylor | The Wright State Guardian
A significantly higher number of sexual assaults on campus happen in the first portion of the fall semester, a period of time called “The Red Zone.” The Wright State University Women’s Center and Public Safety discuss awareness, safety, resources and possible misconceptions regarding the Red Zone and sexual assault.
Historically, the Red Zone has been recognized as approximately the very beginning of the fall semester through the end of Thanksgiving break.
According to the Wright State Police Department daily crime log from Jan. 9, 2023 to May 9, 2023, there was one report of rape on campus. Police Captain Zach Norman says that most sexual assaults on students happen in off-campus housing.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, only 20% of female victims report the abuse to law enforcement.
The current Red Zone
Bobbie Szabo is the assistant director of the Women’s Center, supporting the center’s tenants of education, advocacy, community outreach and community building. Szabo explained that this period of time is one where particularly freshmen are adjusting to new situations.
“They’re exploring with new freedom in a lot of ways, less rules and less structure put upon them, less parental guidance,” Szabo said. “And so, unfortunately, a lot of sexual assault happens during this time, either because perpetrators see an opportunity to gain power and control or because people just don’t really understand what consent is and what it looks like.”
Szabo elaborated on the the various misconceptions about sexual assault, one being that most sexual assaults happen by someone the victim knows who may present as someone who would “never” commit such an act.
Szabo explained that sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, but there are a few safety tips to keep in mind.
Norman recommends students add the Wright State Police phone number, 937-775-2111, to their phones because a 911 call may redirect to other police departments in the event of an emergency.
Norman also recommends always being aware of your surroundings, knowing how to contact WSU police and knowing where the emergency phones are. Szabo recommends learning about consent, staying in groups, learning to assert yourself, finding trusted transportation and telling trusted individuals where you are going and for how long,
If the victim decides to come forward with a police report, which is not required, the following steps would occur.
Students can contact WSU Public Safety at their 108 Allyn Hall Office, via the Emergency Phones with the blue lights on top or with phones in yellow boxes, which may be hard to notice at first, Officer Katie Wright said.
WSU Public Safety will interview the victim to get a full and comprehensive view of what happened during the assault.
Next, depending on the circumstances, WSUPD would collect any evidence, then Public Safety will get into contact with the courts. Victim witnesses, which provide physical and emotional support for victims, will be present during the process, including reporting and contacting the courts.
Public Safety will continue their own investigation going forward, especially if the victim decides to press charges, according to Norman.
Student Legal Services can assist with the legal process.
“This becomes a community and the victim can see that they’re not alone and they have all this assistance to help guide them,” Wright said.
A plethora of resources from the Women’s Center and Public Safety are available for students, but student organizations like the Student Government Association are also involved in education.
This September, SGA hosted an educational event regarding the Red Zone, including Title IX, Public Safety, Counseling and Wellness, Legal Services and more. The Dayton Police Force also hosted a self-defense workshop.
Public Safety hosts sexual assault awareness training with a virtual option at various times during October, February and April, but any individual or student organization can approach Public Safety for free training at any time during the school year. Students can also access training at the Public Safety Engage page.
The Women’s Center and Residence Life are hosting a “Fries & F.R.I.E.S” about consent event on Sept. 29 from 6 to 7 p.m. in Honors Hall. Starting Sept. 25, “Sex Week” will have similar events throughout the week about sexual education.
File a university complaint regarding sexual misconduct, relationship violence or gender-based harassment and discrimination here.
Public Safety is located at 108 Allyn Hall. WSUPD’s number is 937-775-2111. This number is a 24-hour number.
Counseling and Wellness crisis line: 937-775-4567.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673.