Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of sexual assault. Resources are available here.
The IU Student Government will host a forum about the Red Zone at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the Whittenberger Auditorium. The forum is primarily for IU students, but it is open to the wider IU communities.
The Red Zone is the time period from the beginning of the fall semester to Thanksgiving break when there is a spike in the number of sexual assaults on campus, which is especially dangerous for first year students.
Title XI and Sexual Violence Prevention Co-Directors Visannya Saluja and Maddie Butler, along with IUSG President Kyle Seibert, IUSG Vice President Bell Pastore and IUSG Chief of Staff Maddie Zirkle organized this forum together and will be present.
The forum will consist of a group of panelists that will be raising awareness about community and campus resources for survivors of sexual assault. They will also be presenting harm reduction strategies, while condemning all forms of victim blaming.
The goal of the forum is to educate students about all the resources available to them, Saluja said, especially since first-year students may not be aware of the different steps they can take if sexually assaulted.
“It’s more educational, and it’s going to be a nice collaborative environment,” Saluja said. "It should be a positive environment for everyone to learn.”
Students will be able to submit questions anonymously through a form at the forum. Saluja and Butler will be moderating the event and presenting the questions if students are uncomfortable asking themselves.
The forum will also allow students to voice any concerns they have about sexual violence on campus so the panelists and IUSG know what they can do to better to aid with sexual violence on campus, Saluja said.
The panelists include Shatter the Silence Co-Presidents Kate Bangert and Madison Smith, Confidential Victim Advocate Rachel Dimond Davis and other faculty members that are involved in sexual violence victim advocacy and prevention.
A Counseling and Psychological Services representative will be available at the forum to support students if there is triggering content discussed, Bulter said.
If students are not comfortable going to the forum, Butler said they can access the presented information through the office of Sexual Violence and Prevention Victim Advocacy website and Student Conduct website.
Resource handouts will be given out, which can also be found in the office of Sexual Violence and Prevention Victim Advocacy, Butler said.
“Our primary goal here is to make sure students are aware of resources that exist,” Butler said. “To ensure that information is power and to ensure they have access to that information.”
With the Shatter the Silence co-presidents on the panel, students will have fellow IU students representing them who are known for working with and for survivors of sexual assault.
As much as faculty can help survivors, they also have the school’s reputation to keep in mind, Bangert said. Having support from fellow students can ensure that survivors get the resources they are seeking, Bangert said.
“We’re here to be a community to survivors and allies,” Bangert said.
Pastore said she hopes people have a sense of sensitivity when talking about sexual violence and more of an awareness of resources for it after the forum. She said she would love to see this forum continue and center empowerment around survivors.
“By empowering survivors and giving them all of the tools so that if they do want to report they know that they are supported and they know that this school will take it seriously, plays a really big role in the rise of reports,” Pastore said.
A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or abuse.