The first 5-8 weeks of every college semester have come to be referred to as “the red zone”—a time when a high number of campus sexual assaults occur. Raising awareness of risks and offering advice on prevention and protection from sexual assault can be critically important during these early days on campus, especially for first-year students.

Communicating sexual assault awareness on college campuses, though, shouldn’t just happen at the beginning of the semester. It’s a conversation that needs to take place throughout a college student’s academic career through a variety of channels.

Remote Learning May Lessen Awareness, But Doesn’t Reduce Risk of Sexual Assault in College

With educational institutions around the country educating students either virtually, in-person, or a hybrid method, some may believe that the issue of sexual assault on campus is no longer as critical as it was during more normal times. And, in fact, according to The Post, fewer students on campus have been reporting sexual assaults during the red zone. 

But that doesn’t mean that students aren’t still at risk, even after having returned to their home environments. In fact, some students also face risk at home from abusive family members and others. Consequently, it’s important for sexual assault awareness programs to continue even during times of remote or hybrid education.

One in Four—or More—Women at Risk of Sexual Assulat in College

According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, 26.4% of undergraduate women fall victim to sexual assault or rape. That’s about one out of every four women on college campuses. It’s a risk that remains and, in some cases, may be elevated, off campus. 

Why? Because some students live in environments that are unsafe or with people who may be abusers. Campus environments aren’t the only environments that represent potential risk. In addition, and especially during this pandemic, substance abuse is on the rise—and substance abuse can give rise to sexual assault.

Communication about sexual assault awareness in college, therefore, must continue—both on-campus and off. 

Student Sexual Assault Prevention Training

EVERFI’s Sexual Assault Prevention Suite is a comprehensive education and training solution. Our courses use realistic scenarios students can relate to as well as interactive elements that keep learners engaged throughout the course. Most importantly, the training is written by prevention education and compliance experts.

A Process, Not a Program

Communication about sexual assault in college isn’t a “one in done” activity. At the end of the day this isn’t about putting “a program” in place. It’s not just about having a person on campus to do orientation and training around harassment and sexual assault prevention. It’s a process—a process that starts at the highest level of the institution with the commitment of senior leaders and a decision to prioritize ongoing training, education, communication, and transparency around sexual harassment and assault on campus. 

Yes there are costs associated with these efforts. But these dollars might better be thought of as an investment in the success of your institution’s students.

Invest in Sexual Assault Awareness on College Campuses

While most campuses around the country are spending about $5/student for sexual assault and harassment support, the leading institutions are spending more like $15/student. These leading institutions are realizing that harassment and sexual assault awareness programs aren’t just something that’s “nice to have”—it’s mission-critical. Making the sort of transformational changes that will empower students to be successful, that will increase retention rates and that will meet students’ social justice-related expectations requires investing more.  

Best Practicesfor Commmunicating Sexual Assault Awareness on College Campuses

  1. Effective communication about sexual assault on campus requires a non-biased approach that doesn’t cast all students in the role of potential abusers.
  2. Communication efforts should focus on enlisting students as advocates and supporters for others in the campus community—even when they’re not physically on campus. 
  3. Campus climate surveys can provide administrators with information on where these efforts need to be adjusted or where additional information and support may be needed.
  4. When harassment or sexual assault events occur and are reported, take swift action and, as appropriate, communicate to students, instructors and staff. 

Transparency Is Important

Institutions need to regularly communicate with the campus community about how incidents should be reported, how they will be responded to, the extent of sexual assault on campus and how improvements are being made, resources that are available on campus and off, and the role that the entire campus community can play in driving down incidents of sexual assault in college.

A Training Solution Trusted By 1500+ Institutions

Use our realistic scenarios to help your students relate and stay engaged throughout the course. Most importantly, empower your students with the tools to effectively step in, communicate, or report situations of sexual assault.