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Raising the Red Flag

Bobby Atkinson

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Sexual assault is an epidemic on college campuses across the nation. College women are four times more likely than the general public to be sexually assaulted, and one in four female students will become victims of sexual abuse during their time in college, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice.

These staggering statistics are the driving force behind the Verizon Wireless-sponsored Red Flag Campaign coming to the University of Alabama April 23-25 in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance started the program in 2006 to help raise awareness of the proliferation of sexual assault at colleges by hanging red flags and a series of posters featuring sexual-assault scenarios across Virginia campuses.

According to a press release, the campaign “aims to raise awareness about sexual assault using a ‘bystander intervention’ strategy, encouraging friends and other campus community members to ‘say something’ when they see warning signs — ‘red flags’ — for dating violence in a friend’s relationship.”

Since the initial launch of the Red Flag Campaign, the program has been featured on over 100 campuses in more than 27 states. The campaign differs from campus to campus, with the event planners at each school deciding how to distribute the red flags and posters across the campuses.

“What we will do is place red flags on the quad and to raise awareness of interpersonal violence — both sexual and dating violence,” said Wanda Burton, an Alabama professor planning the event. “We want students to know that some of the issues of interpersonal violence have actual warning signs, and if we can recognize those signs — such as extreme jealousy — early on, that could reduce the risk of being in an abusive relationship.”

The red flags placed across the quad contain warning signs for violence in a relationship. According to the Red Flag Campaign website, some of these red flags include: partners who abuse alcohol or other drugs, don’t work or go to school, cheat or have multiple partners, tell one how to dress or act or insult others.

This year marks the program’s second time to be featured at the University of Alabama, and the campaign made its third appearance on the Auburn University campus April 3 and 4.

“The event went really well this year. We were rained out on the second day, but we were happy with the turnout on the first day,” said Kristy Malone, the Auburn Women’s Resource Center’s diversity initiative coordinator. “I think the best way to do the campaign is to have the red flags spread across campus and not in just one area. Students could get intimidated by one big location, but the little flags and smaller set-ups can make people feel more comfortable about getting information.”

The Red Flag Campaign will be at UA April 23-25. The red flags, as well as a couple of posters, will be spread across the campus. Anyone who would like more information about the campaign or sexual assault can go to the website, theredflagcampaign.com, or visit the University of Alabama Women’s Resource Center.

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Raising the Red Flag