The Red Zone

Rebecca Raudabaugh

September is the most dangerous month for college students. It is known as the “Red Zone.” Students are more likely to be sexually assaulted in the first six weeks of class, particularly first-years. When you ask someone their opinion on sexual assault, they tell you it’s abhorrent, they can’t believe it happens and they wish they could do something to help. Yet so many stand by and don’t actively fight for the right to say yes.

I am a co-leader of The Network on campus, a Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE) that raises awareness about sexual assault and domestic/relationship vio-lence. As such, I know way too much about the assault statis-tics on this campus. And I also know that most people who are sexually assaulted are women. So it is mostly women who actively fight sexual assault. What is wrong with this picture? Men have a reputation here for taking advantage of drunk women (particularly first-years) and don’t take no for an answer. Now, I am not a man, but I would not want this reputation if I were one. Fraternities and other male-dominated social groups get the blame for this, but instead of working to abolish this fact and work as a whole to have safe sexual encounters, they remain silent.

One in four college women and one in ten college men will be assaulted by the time they graduate. Statistics from Colgate’s Campus Climate Life Survey of 2009 showed that more than 70 percent of Colgate students have reported some form of sexual harassment. This is a problem on our campus and around the globe. In South Africa, women are raped so frequently that a doctor has created the “anti-rape female condom,” which has teeth that attach to a man’s penis during penetration. Just to put that in perspective, it is said that a woman born in South Africa has a higher chance of being raped than learning to read. Greek life as a whole should be outraged by the comments others in the community are making against it.

Of course, anywhere alcohol is involved, the lines get blurred and the incidence of sexual assault increases dramatically. But fra-ternities and sororities should be educating their members and demonstrating that they will not tolerate this at their chapter. People who publish statistics acknowledge that it is Greek life that encourages the drinking culture on college campuses. They therefore are suggesting that Greek life is encouraging sexual assault through these outlets.

Now, as a fellow Greek life member, I cannot accept that all aspects of my sorority are promoting these horrible acts of vio-lence. I can’t sit here and pretend that we don’t have a part to play either. Unfortunately, the statistics are weighted heavily against men being the perpetrator, and in one in three sexual assaults the perpetrator is intoxicated. But fraternities can change this. Now, I’m not saying that it will happen overnight, but I think it is important to understand that simply being aware of the situation and what the definition of consent is can create a safer social campus.

Men can help make a difference on this campus and across the globe. The idea that this is a “women’s issue” is the reason that sexual assault still happens. It takes two, and women em-powering women is not going to end sexual assault. We need men to be aware of the consequences and also help prevent assault. If I were in a fraternity, I wouldn’t want girls to be worried about coming to my parties because they might get hurt. I would want girls to come to have a good time and hopefully make some new friends. Trust is something that is easily broken. Men have a responsibility to themselves and to all the women in their lives to preserve that trust by proving that they know how to recognize consent. Fight for your brotherhood, fight for your sisterhood and show the world that we aren’t the ones causing a problem. During this year’s Red Zone, prove to Colgate that frats are not the hotbed of sexual assault.

Contact Rebecca Raudabaugh at [email protected]