Ever hear that phrase “this raises a red flag?” Students may have noticed tiny red flags placed around the quad earlier last week. The red flags are placed in honor of the Red Flag Campaign, dedicated to raising awareness of dating and domestic violence. The Red Flag campaign will make its debut onto WCU’s campus this semester. The Red Flag campaign was originally started in Virginia to stop dating violence on campuses in the state, but has now spread nationally. Adale Sholock, director of the Women’s Center and Alicia Hahn, assistant coordinator of Wellness Programs, have helped bring the movement onto campus. Both women, with assistance from the Student Health and Wellness staff and the Women’s Center staff, have created a campus-wide crusade to end and help students be informed about dating violence.
Sholock describes the effort put into the campaign as “a community effort but sort of spear-headed by the student health and wellness center and the Women’s Center. It’s a collaborative project.” Hahn also adds that the library, Sykes Student Union, and Lawrence were also a huge help in publicizing the event.
The spread of the campaign all started on a cold night in the beginning of the semester when student workers tried desperately to plant the little red flags into the ground. Without help and with no hope of the ground thawing, they had to wait a couple of months for the ground to soften before the red flags could be planted around campus. Now, with the promise of warmer weather, the flags were rooted, yet again, to the grounds in the Quad with the promise of drawing curious minds to their cause.
According to the sample press release by the Red Flag Campaign, in twenty-one percent of college-level dating relationships, at least one person is being abused. That is one in five relationships in which one person is abused. Thirty-two percent of college students have reported experiences in dating violence from previous partners and fifty-one percent of college males have admitted to committing one or more sexual assault episodes in college. So what are the red flags that come up in dating violence? Jealousy, isolation, name-calling, stalking, physical and sexual abuse among others, are signs of dating violence.
“Some of these forms are more recognizable to people as forms of violence while other forms are not. What the red flag symbolizes is raising a red flag when you see something that is potentially problematic”Sholock said.
Sholock also notes that the posters about the Red Flag Campaign that are around campus do have information for bystanders or friends who know of someone who might be in a harmful dating situation. The poster gives information on how to confront your friend or even a stranger if you witness something that raises a red flag.
“It both raises awareness of different kinds of intimate partner violence but it also gives students and staff members and a whole community tools to really help intervene” Sholock said. “I think that’s the challenging part of any bystander campaign whether its reminding someone to throw their trash, that they threw on the ground, in a trash can or getting people to call for help for somebody who has alcohol poisoning or saying something to a friend that’s in a potentially dangerous situation, is you don’t know what to say” Hahn said.
The posters also give advice on how to talk to potential perpetrators as well. Sholock also mentions that the idea to do the Red Flag Campaign generated from some of the results of the 2010 Campus Climate Survey.
“The Thing about this campaign is that it just isn’t aimed at women keeping themselves safe, but it is also aimed at potential perpetrators, which could be men. What we really liked about the campaign was that it was responsive to a diverse range of people that are impacted by intimate partner violence,” Sholock said. The Red Flag Campaign makes sure to incorporate heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
“This is something that impacts you regardless of your race, sexual orientation, and regardless of your gender” Sholock said, who stated that both men and women are victims.
“Men are sometimes targeted by emotional abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. These are still issues that impact men and they are often invisible to us” Sholock said. Hahn also talks about how the campaign was first started in Virginia.
“They did extensive group testing within college students to fine-tune their messages, so these messages did come from the eighteen to twenty-four age range. It was the adults that were coming up with the messages for the campaign, it was the students.”
“That’s what we liked about the campaign. Not only did it represent a range of different sexualities and races. It was created by students for students” Sholock said.
Angela Thomas is a fourth year student majoring in English with a minor in web technology. She can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu.