50% of campus sexual assaults happen at start of school, 'Red Zone'

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Half of all the sexual assaults committed on college campuses happen during the beginning of the school year, according to a sexual assault survey.

The time period is called the red zone, from the start of school until thanksgiving break, where the number of sexual assaults spike.

Classes called the first year experience are required of first year students at MSUM to take it, no matter what your major is. Educating about what consent means, and how their actions matter. Julia Roland says, "Seeing the face of someone that they see kind of talking about making good decisions, the more we can have that happen, the better that that support system will be for them, then we know from research that they will retain."

Within the first six weeks of school is when students make bad choices, according to Roland, which is why these classes are important for first year students.

Melanie Fierstine with the Rape and Abuse Crisis center says the area colleges are doing a lot of good work. "I always say, I would love for women to be able to walk through without a key in their hand, or mace with them at all times. Really just creating a safe campus where you're feeling safe, and you're not feeling like you have to have to constantly be protecting yourself, and I think a lot of the onus gets put on the victims rather than those who are creating the harm. How do we create a culture where these instances aren't occurring and that this is not okay."

It's not okay to see something and do nothing, Roland says they teach bystanders what to do, and the victims also. "Ask for help, I think we get into situations that we didn't intend to, and sometimes we feel as if we have put ourselves into that situation and now we just have to deal with it, no."

While all the colleges in the area have resources for students, the rape and abuse crisis center also has free services. If you or someone you know is going through a crisis, you can call 701-293-7273.

We did some digging on the number of sexual offenses at colleges in our area. At NDSU there were 20 sexual offenses involving students on and off campus from 2013-2015. At MSUM, 15 over a 5 year span from 2012-2016. In grand forks, UND investigated 33 sexual offenses from 2014-2016.