With the excitement of new environments and friends, many college freshman are unaware of the dangers and risks during their first year of college. In 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault found that 1 in 5 college students experienced sexual assault during their college careers.
Safety Tips for College Students
Unfortunately, over half of sexual assaults committed against college students occur when one or more of the individuals involved are intoxicated or under the influence. To help keep your student safe, make sure they know these basic safety guidelines.
- Know Your Limits – If you are going to drink alcohol, know your limits. Being intoxicated lowers your ability to fight off an attacker and impairs your judgement. Even worse, binge drinking can leave potential victims at risk while blacked out or unconscious.
- Stay in a Group – Make sure that if you are drinking, walking home late at night or staying the night at a friend’s house after a party that you stick with friends you can trust. If you make a pact to ensure that you all get home safely and watch out for each other, you are less likely to be at risk. If you do go out alone, make sure that someone knows where you are and when you are expected home.
- Keep an Eye On Your Drink – If you are drinking, make sure that you don’t leave your drink unattended or accept drinks that you didn’t see someone make for you. This can put you at risk of someone slipping something into your beverage.
- Trust Your Intuition – If you have a bad feeling about a person, party, or location, leave. Most of the time, your gut is right. It is likely that if you don’t feel safe that you may not be. Call for a ride, leave the situation and make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. If there is a crowd or other people nearby, move in their direction and draw attention to yourself by talking loudly on your phone or yelling for a “friend” you see in the distance.
With sexual assault on college campuses in the recent spotlight, many college campuses around the nation are updating their policies to help better protect their students and raise awareness about what consent means and looks like.
New Policies Implemented by the University of Minnesota
This fall, University of Minnesota school officials have created new policies that more clearly outline what constitutes consent and what is classified as sexual assault. The U of M campus is initiating a campaign known nationwide as the “Yes Means Yes” campaign. Opposite of the “no means no” policy, this raises awareness about “affirmative consent,” when a sexual partner must imply that they are comfortable to move forward through their words or actions.
However, the new policy is creating confusion with the students. “It does not mean you need to sign a contract,” said U of M student body president Joelle Strangler in an interview with Kare 11. “I believe that’s been incredibly misleading to the public and to students here. I’ve had a number of concerns brought to me.”
The new policy is meant to help students better understand and know what to do in situations where consent is unclear. School officials hope the new policy helps bring up conversations between students and prevent undesired sexual encounters.
What to Do if You or a Friend is a Victim
For incoming freshman, it is important to know what your institution’s policies are on rape and sexual assault. But more importantly, know where you can find help. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) has online resources that can help you know how to report the crime to the police, recover from sexual violence and where to get help.
If you or someone you know have suffered from any type of abuse or exploitation, a O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss attorney can help you take legal action and guide you through the legal process. For more information about our team, please visit our website or give us a call at (877) 235-8002.
Image courtesy of Amariotti/Wikipedia.