The Red Zone Initiative: The What, The Why, The How
By Malin Curry, Undergraduate Secretary
What is It?
The Red Zone. A period of time between the months of August to November, during which sexual assaults on college campuses are statistically more likely to occur, specifically to female identifying first year students. The number of reported assaults on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus grows annually creating a need for a collective force to raise awareness and fight this staggering statistic.
Enter the Red Zone Initiative. A coalition of student organizations housed within the Undergraduate Exec Branch that is working to do precisely this by hosting various activations, providing students with resources and working to #ReclaimtheRedZone.
This year, organizers of the Initiative have plans to deepen the impact it makes on campus. According to Serena Singh, co-director of the Red Zone Initiative, past iterations of the Initiative have been event focused and have not yielded lasting success.
“We are really focused on connecting with campus organizations that already do things in this realm well,” she said. “It’s less about events and more focused on making a lasting impact even beyond the time the Red Zone occurs.”
The central themes of the Red Zone Initiative are: affirmative consent, what it means to be an active bystander and how not to perpetrate. Singh said these themes drove decisions leadership made while planning.
The goal of the Initiative according to Lucy Russell, a senior studying Public Policy, is to eradicate the Red Zone entirely. She believes this can be accomplished by emphasizing this year’s themes. Themes that students can expect to see represented in all future activations concerning the Red Zone Initiative.
“UNC should be free of all gender-based violence, so we are utilizing the Red Zone period to raise awareness about affirmative consent and how to take care of each other,” she said.
Arts and Activism
Leadership enlisted the help of Arts Everywhere, an initiative that seeks to make art a part of the daily culture and life of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Together, they will be releasing a joint arts and activism exhibit in October to highlight Red Zone efforts in a creative way.
“The arts is such an interesting medium for this project, as it aids in advocacy efforts as well as provides a space for healing for survivors,” said Gayathri Raghavendra, Arts Everywhere Student Lead. “In the next few months, you’ll see some public art relating to the Red Zone.”
Like Singh, Raghavendra wants to ensure the impact she makes is long lasting. She plans to make the exhibit available on digital platforms shortly after its release, allowing students to access it for years to come.
“Every single student has been a bystander at some point in their college career and to ignore this glaring problem within our own campus community would be not only irresponsible, but abhorrent. In addition, it is incredibly important to support survivors and be as supportive of a community as possible to help aid in any way,” she said.
Leadership is also working to plan a Town Hall on sexual assault, bring in activists to lead bystander and survivor’s healing art workshops, developing merchandise set to be released later and working on a social campaign to continue spreading the word.
According to Singh, these new additions are important to the longevity of the Red Zone Initiative, as the Red Zone is something that should remain relevant even after November. She, along with Kelley Traynham, co-director of the Red Zone Initiative, are working to ensure that this year’s activations engage students.
“Sexual assault has been an issue impacting our campus which is why the Red Zone Initiative is crucial,” said Traynham. “Our leadership team is made up of almost entirely women, and it’s so empowering to be able to work on something like this that specifically impacts women and see some tangible change. It is my desire that through student government we’ll be able to keep this Initiative moving forward to show that this year’s administration will always fight for justice and improving the life of others.”
Stay tuned for more updates concerning the Red Zone Initiative via all our social platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and website. For more information and additional resources visit safe.unc.edu and check out the graphics below.