It’s an exciting time of year, but there’s an underlying danger lurking on college campuses- particularly as classes get underway.
Researchers say more than half of college sexual assaults take place between now and Thanksgiving break.
Florida Gulf Coast University student Kerbie Byard has made it her mission to make sure all students, especially the incoming freshman on the FGCU campus, know what they need to know to stay safe. Especially when it comes to sexual assault.
“I could say definitely when it comes to females on campus, it was a really big issue,” said Byard.
Byard said she hears girls tell them how they feel pressure from their peers, and that pressure can lead them into potentially dangerous situations.
“The first couple of weeks back to school, you do normally see an increase in cases,” said Precious Green Gunter, the FGCU Title IX coordinator.
Green Gunter handles sex assault complaints at the university. She says the start of the school year until Thanksgiving break typically marks a “red zone” for campuses where the numbers of sexual assaults spike.
“Because often times, students are trying to finish the semester before they then come forward with their complaint,” she says.
Gunter Green said the university has held staff training sessions and try to make sure every student knows how to report an assault, but she fears there are still too many who are afraid to come forward.
“I think sometimes it’s concern, it’s shame, it’s backlash that they feel,” she said.
“Sexual assault victims usually feel like they don’t have a voice,” said Byard, “so I feel like our campus really extends that voice.” So more students can speak up.