Women’s Center raises awareness of sexual violence during the “Red Zone”

On Oct. 23, the 2,870 red flags displayed in the memorial quad will be taken down as the Red Zone campaign winds down.

The annual campaign, organized by the ASUO Women’s Center, is an international effort to raise awareness of dating violence and sexual assault on college campus. According to Selina Mitchell, sexual violence prevention and education coordinator for the ASUO Women’s Center, the “red zone” refers to a student’s first day on campus until Thanksgiving break, a period in which there is an overall spike in sexual violence cases on campus.

“It was originally to combat dating violence on campuses but because of the publicity that we’re seeing on campus we decided that we wanted it to be about sexual violence prevention,” Mitchell explained.

Mitchell recently transferred to the University of Oregon from Portland Community College. She began working in sexual assault services with crisis line shifts and youth group involvement two years ago. Part of her job is to plan campaigns such as the Red Zone.

“What we’re trying to do is just show students that the campus does take this seriously, and there are resources, and that there are places on campus that combat this kind of thing while also educating new students on what is going on,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s vital knowledge to understand that this is serious.”

Jane Ou, the Women’s Center event coordinator and an international student from China, added that the roughly 3,000 flags help students conceptualize the gravity of the issue.

“People don’t think that it happens, because for them it’s just a number,” Ou said. “They always hear about it from TV or lectures, but for me it’s important to visually show them how large the number is and to bring awareness – to shock them.”

The Red Zone organizers also worked with the UO director of sexual violence prevention and education Kerry Frazee during the planning stages of the campaign.

“In my role, I felt it valuable to be included in those discussions and support their efforts,” Frazee said.

According to Mitchell, sexual violence awareness is not limited to the fall campaign, and one of her goals for the entire year is to focus on consent.

“It seems like people have heard this word a lot, but don’t know exactly what it means,” Mitchell said. “There are subtle ways of saying yes and saying no when we look at sexuality. And my personal goal on this campus is that the prevention part of my job will to give people the tools, when they’ve just met somebody, to openly communicate and say, ‘This makes me uncomfortable,’”

Ou has two goals: to increase awareness of sexual violence among international students and to incite action in fellow students.

“I don’t want people to just be shocked by the number,” Ou said. “I want them to pay attention to sexual violence, and actually think about what they can do do help.”


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Francesca Fontana

Francesca Fontana

Francesca is the associate news editor for community news.
She worked as The Register-Guard's 2015 Snowden Intern, and studies journalism and economics.