Clark Co. colleges highlight sexual violence awareness, need for intervention during ‘red zone’ time of year

Colleges in Clark County are raising awareness about sexual violence and continuing bystander intervention education as students enter into the “red zone.”

The red zone, which occurs from August to around Thanksgiving break annually, is the period in which college campuses see the most cases of sexual assault during the school year.

“We primarily know that the first few weeks in the fall are going to be when students are most vulnerable,” said Wittenberg University Dean of Students Casey Gill.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual violence in college campuses is pervasive, with 13% of all students (undergraduate and graduate) experiencing rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

For undergraduate students alone, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault, RAINN reported.

Wittenberg University and Clark State College, like other colleges throughout the nation, are federally mandated to release a report annually about campus security and safety.

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In 2019, seven reports of rape were made at Wittenberg University: on campus, off campus or on public property. That year also saw several reports of forced fondling, domestic violence, relationship violence and stalking, according to the annual campus safety report issued in 2021.

Data in the report was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as campuses were closed with students studied remotely in the spring and hybridly in the fall of 2020. Only one rape was reported, with under five reports of other sexual and partner violence.

Last school year, the university received between 12 and 15 reports that fall under the campus’ Title IX office, Gill said. These reports can range from acts of sexual assault to harassment and can be from incidents that occurred outside of the school year.

The campus’ 2022 report will be published, as mandated, on or before Oct. 1 and is currently under review, Gill said.

Clark State, a non-residential campus, saw no reports of sexual violence in 2020, 2019 and 2018, according to its annual security and safety report.

Both colleges are working to build awareness around sexual assault and intimate partner violence through bystander intervention education and community partnerships.

Gill said Wittenberg implements Green Dot curriculum — a nationally used form of bystander intervention training — throughout the school year, and the program is weaved into Welcome Week each fall. The school also uses Step Up programming, which walks people through steps they can take to intervene in different situations.

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“We try to build a culture of upstanding behavior where people recognize and know how to intervene in potentially violent situations,” Gill said.

The college also has programming about consent, and students are required to complete several courses about alcohol, sexual assault awareness and hazing, Gill said. Self-defense classes are also offered on campus.

Clark State offers training that encourages participants to take action safely when they witness unsafe behaviors, providing suggestions for intervention.

“A part of this training also includes the importance of believing and supporting victims, guiding them to resources, and avoiding any response that could be interpreted as victim-blaming,” Van Noord said.

Clark State also joined a national campaign last year to show students and staff on campus the signs of “red flags” in social situations and relationships.

Melinda Van Noord, Clark State’s counseling coordinator and leader of the college’s sexual violence prevention team, said the Red Flag campaign has been a “valuable” visual reminder to “say something” if harassment, stalking, or other unsafe behaviors are witnessed.

Van Noord said the college encourages students to report any incidents that are abusive, harassing, or that make them feel uncomfortable. Students have access to confidential support on campus through the Counseling Center. If an incident were to occur on campus, students can make a report to a member of the Title IX team, too.

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Clark County’s colleges also provide support services to survivors of sexual and partner violence. Both schools operate their own Student CARE teams, which consist of university employees who work to assemble needed support for students, which can range from counseling to academic scheduling, no contact orders, housing arrangements and food-based needs.

Both colleges have also partnered with Project Woman, the area’s domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center, to host victim advocates on their campuses weekly.

“We try to cover all the different aspects as we work through this,” Gill said.


HOW TO GET HELP

Clark State College Counseling Services: (937) 328-7961

Wittenberg Counseling Services: (937) 327-7811

Project Woman’s 24-Hour Crisis Line: (800) 634-9893

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

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