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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Start of new semester brings higher risk of sexual assault

With the start of a new semester comes the heightened risk of sexual assault, and the first six weeks of school are deemed the “red zone.”

While its existence is somewhat contested, according to Megan McKendry, violence prevention specialist at the Oasis Program at Campus Health Service, she has seen studies with a correlation between the first couple of months of school and an increase of sexual assault for first-year students.

The “red zone” is the time from which fall semester classes begin until the sixth week of school and is a bigger concern for first-year students. McKendry said that it is possible that first-year students are more at risk due to being in a new environment with new surroundings.

“Most first-year students are under 21, so it’s possible it’s their first time having access to drugs and alcohol,” McKendry said. “Perpetrators may target students who seem more vulnerable.”

According to Sgt. Filbert Barrera, public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department, there have been seven reported sexual assaults since the beginning of 2014 and one reported sexual assault since the 2014 fall semester commenced.

According to the University of Arizona 2013 Annual Campus Safety, Security and Fire Safety Report, there were five reported forcible sexual offences in 2010, four in 2011 and nine in 2012.

However, these reports are only incidents that happened on campus in specific buildings that may be under the purview of the university, such as off-campus fraternity houses and incidents that took place on public property that is adjacent to the university, McKendry said.

“A lot of students live at off-campus apartments and parties happen there,” McKendry said, “so anything that happens someplace that is not some way affiliated with the university is not going to appear on the campus safety reports, even if it was reported.”

In Oasis’ annual report from 2012-13, 40 students visited the clinic in regard to a sexual assault incident.

In an annual Health and Wellness Survey published in the report, a randomly selected group of 3,055 undergraduate students were asked two questions about their sexual experiences. Of the group, 2.3 percent of those students reported that “someone had oral, anal or vaginal sex without [their] consent,” and 8.5 percent of students said that “someone had fondled, kissed or rubbed up against the private areas of [their] body … or removed their clothes without [their] consent.”

Bailey Hinkel, a psychology freshman, said that while she was unaware of the “red zone” time period, she has heard people around her talk about sexual assault incidents, and said that she has heard of at least three stories from people.

Hinkel added that she does see UAPD present, especially at night, patrolling the Highland Avenue area where she resides, especially Thursday through Saturday nights.

Barrera said that having a plan, travelling with friends and always letting someone know where you will be going are key to staying safe on campus. Barrera added that it is not only important to keep first-year students safe, but to keep all students safe.

— Follow Adriana Espinosa @AdrianaE_DW

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