From the first week of classes through November, college freshman are 50% more likely to be sexually assaulted according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. This time period is called “The Red Zone.” Many colleges are the nation are taking measures to fight this trend, and Maryville College has followed suit.
MC is approaching “The Red Zone” in two different ways: freshman orientation and residence life.
Jessica Boor, Director of Student Services and the Title IX Coordinator, is one of the key figures behind the many changes that took place this year during “Great Beginnings,” a freshmen orientation. EverFi, an online training system, is one of the new programs being implemented to help keep our students safe. This online training course was required for all entering freshman.
Boor described the training as “educating students on topics of consent, bystander intervention, and prevention and reporting sexual assault. In theory, this training seems very helpful in fighting against “The Red Zone,” but freshman Kier Hull feels differently.
“Most people just clicked through it. It actually took me around four hours to complete, and my peer mentor told me only about 170 students ended up completing the training.”
Hull found the other aspect of freshman orientation about sexual assault to be more helpful, “The session we attended during Great Beginnings was more helpful than the online training since attendance was mandatory.”
Boor describes this information session as designed to help students understand and identify how to step up against sexual assault. The second way Maryville College specifically fights against the dangers of “The Red Zone” is through residence life in freshmen residence halls.
“We were trained in a seminar about the process of ‘reporting up,’ the warning signs of assault, and what to say when someone confesses to you.
Something else they emphasized during the seminar was what it means to be a mandatory reporter,” said Copeland Hall Resident Assistant, Madison Gilliam. This training is also combined with a series of programs. The college believes that by building strong relationships between the Resident Assistants and students, we can build a safer environment and community.
“For the first six weeks of the school year, RA’s are encouraged to do more programs and campus events with residents than during the rest of the year. This is because we want to encourage residents to spend more time with their building’s community and facilitate building relationships on campus in a safe space,” said Elea Forester, a Resident Assistant in Davis Hall. The programs and events are often things like a cupcake making party or even a movie night.
“There is definitely more that we could be doing to combat the issue,” Forester stated. This is a valid concern that others share, and Maryville College is attempting to make the program’s fighting against “The Red Zone” and sexual assault more prevalent on campus.
Currently, the training during “Great Beginnings” and the emphasis on building relationships in freshman buildings is Maryville College’s attempt to prevent sexual assault during “The Red Zone,” but the tactics of tackling this issue change every year. Boor hopes that the school “can continue to make improvements to the policies and processes to ensure that all students have equitable access to education” about preventing sexual assault.