The “Red Zone,” the most vulnerable time for college students

Tamica Jean-Charles/Entertainment Director

The University has seen a 38 percent increase in reported rape in the last three years—with four in 2014 to eight in 2016, according to the University’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for 2017. MMC has reported seven rapes, and BBC with one.

FIU has the fifth highest rape charges of all public four-year universities in Florida—with eight reported rapes—according to the school’s 2017 annual security report and fire safety guide. The University of Florida has the highest at 21, while The University of Central Florida and New College of Florida has the lowest with zero.

However, two out of three sexual assaults go unreported, according to

Graphic by Victoria Abella.

The peak time of sexual assault-related offenses, known as the “Red Zone,” are usually during the first six weeks of the Fall semester. However, this stat varies from school to school, with FIU’s being from the end of August to the beginning of November, according to Jacob “Jake” Burns, program coordinator for Dean of Students.

Freshman and transfer students, especially women, are the most vulnerable to sexual violence in the Red Zone, said Burns. However, many students are unaware of the Red Zone dangers.

Burns, himself, is a victim of sexual assault.

Victim Empowerment Services and Counseling and Psychological Services are the main trailblazers for red zone education. Wendy Ordonez, outreach coordinator for CAPS, for example, pushes to have various events occur throughout the year.

Throughout the year, CAPS tries to implement different methods to spread the word. One way is representatives from CAPS will station themselves in the elevators of the Modesto Maidique and Biscayne Bay campuses.

“We have a really quick elevator speech of the event and then hand out flyers, that way we get to have different populations, while also having a table on the second floor just in case they need more information,” said Ordonez.

Ordonez said that they have reached over 900 students just this semester.

CAPS also hopes to work with local businesses within the vicinity of the campus. Businesses in the past, such as 109 Burger Joint and Night Owl Cookie, have offered CAPS flyers for customers to take. Greek organizations, such as Zeta Beta Tau, have also offered to help.

The Times Up and Me Too movement has initiated conversations on addressing sexual assault, which has served to the benefit of addressing the Red Zone and sexual assault in general, said Ordonez.

“These topics are relevant throughout the whole year. We do stuff to raise awareness and [hope to] prevent actions in the community,” said Ordonez.

Engagement has been hard, Burns said, but it’s improving.

“There is a drastic lack of evaluation on all college campuses about this issue,” said Burns. “It’s very hard to actually track because students don’t report obviously for a myriad of reasons.”

The various events that educate students about sexual assault and the Red Zone are a collaborative effort with different centers and organizations including: The Women’s Center, National Organization of Women, It’s On Us, Panther’s Care, LGBTQ Intiative, Healthy Living, Florida Health, Panther’s for Recovery, American Medical Women’s Association and representatives from the FIU Student Code of Conduct.

Students interested in learning more about these organizations can visit Panther Connect at

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash.


Editor’s note:

At publication, the article stated the data was taken from the 2017-2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety report when it was actually taken from the 2017 report. The 2018 report is set to release sometime in October. 

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