In college the term ‘Red Zone’ refers to a period during the first six weeks of the fall semester. It is a time when freshmen students are more susceptible to certain risky behaviors, such as excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, and even sexual assaults 1. This heightened risk is due to various factors, including adjusting to a new environment, independence for the first time, social pressures, and lack of familiarity with college life.
Here are some ways you can protect yourself.
- Don’t ever leave your drink unattended, even for a moment. If your drink has an odd appearance or taste (like unexplained residue or a salty taste), immediately throw it out. Drinks that have lids or sports tops are a good choice.
- No your ‘no’. This applies to a lot of situations. If it makes you uncomfortable, it’s okay to say ‘no’. The friends you make your first semester may not be the friends you spend the rest of college hanging out with. You’ll find your ‘people’, the ones you enjoy hanging out with, the ones that get your sense of humor, and enjoy the same things you do.
- Trust your gut. If something about someone or the location feels weird, listen to your gut and leave immediately. Also, make new friends earn your trust. Don’t assume everyone will look out for your best interests. Get to know people before you count on them to have your back.
- Stay with your friends. You and your friends can agree that if any of you appear intoxicated, passes out, gets sick, or is having trouble walking or breathing, the other buddy will make sure they get home safely.
- Use the buddy system. Don’t leave someone stranded in an unfamiliar or unsafe situation. Stay together!
- Keep your phone charged. Keep your phone on you at all times in case you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.
- Be alert of your surroundings. Regardless of the setting, it’s important to always pay attention to what is going on around you. For example, don’t have ear buds when walking alone on campus, you won’t be aware of anyone coming up to you.
- Familiarize yourself with campus resources. If your campus has a bus or public safety escort that will walk you home at night, take advantage of those services. Note where the blue light emergency phone stations are on campus. If a safety app is available for your college, add it to your phone.
The choices made during the Red zone can have lasting consequences on academic performance, physical and mental health, and overall college experience. During this exciting new chapter of your life remember, making good choices can make all the difference!
- Avery, C. (2022, September 14). The “red zone”: First-year students especially at risk for sexual violence. The “Red Zone”: First-year students especially at risk for sexual violence – Indiana Daily Student. https://www.idsnews.com/article/2022/09/red-zone-sexual-violence-student-campus-freshman-resources-safety