The “red zone,” a period of increased sexual assaults on university campuses across the country, has been a topic of focus for various organizations at Ohio University.

Kim Rouse, director of OU’s Survivor Advocacy Program, or SAP, said it is hard to predict what the red zone time period will look like for Fall Semester, given the unique circumstances over the past year.

“Some people say we kind of have two and a half first-year classes not in terms of academic stature, but in terms of their experience on college campus,” Rouse said. “When you think about that piece alone, we have a lot of students who don't have a lot of experience with the college environment and the resources available to them, which is why we have really been trying to push out information about SAP.”

She expects SAP to see more clients than fall 2020, due to excitement to go out and about again after a year of isolation. That is not a problem only at OU, she said. It is a national issue, and SAP attends conferences and works with similar programs across the country to help combat it.

Grace Koennecke, a freshman studying journalism, said she received an email from the university about the red zone and has done some reading about it on OU’s social media. Ashleigh Clabaugh, a sophomore studying chemical engineering, said she received similar emails. She feels aware of the issue despite not being entirely up to date with the terminology, she said.

At OU, the university’s Office of Health Promotion and SAP are working together to help spread awareness of the subject.

Ann Brandon, associate director of prevention and education within the Office of Health Promotion, emphasized the lack of in-person programming about the red zone issue during COVID-19 and said she is excited to be rebuilding the programs.

“For the Office of Health Promotion, we're really lucky that we have peer educators here, (like) POWER/GAMMA,” Brandon said. “We also have peer educators that are bystanders who are really focusing on power based violence as a whole.”

POWER/GAMMA, which stands for Promoting Ohio University Wellness, Education and Responsibility/Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol, is a “leadership program for students who agree to be advocates for health-related issues on campus,” according to OU’s website

CHOICES is another program put into effect Fall Semester and combines alcohol, consent and sexual violence education. All first-year students in learning communities will go through the program, she said.

On the flip side of the issue, SAP works with victims of sexual assault after an event has occurred. SAP’s services are available to all students regardless of when or where an assault occurred, Rouse said. 

“We are confidential, which means that clients can come to us and get services without it triggering a mandatory report through Title IX or through law enforcement,” Rouse said. 

She said primarily what her office does is help clients work through the processes following an assault. The processes can include finding a therapist and moving forward, filing charges or any combination thereof.

Rouse highlighted the implementation of a program in which workers from SAP are able to accompany clients to the hospital, should it be desired. She said that program was unable to occur during the pandemic, but SAP is now working to put it in place. 

Other programs, including a victim support group, will be implemented as well, Rouse said. Additionally, multiple educational programs are being worked on and will be announced to students as they become available.

“My wish is that there was no such thing as a red zone and that my job didn't exist,” Rouse said. “I'm probably the only person on campus that will say, ‘I wish that I can work myself out of the job’.“

If you are looking for survivor resources, you can visit the SAP website for further information.

Claire Schiopota contributed to this report.