What the ‘red zone’ means in Title IX sexual assault cases

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Education Law

Title IX is part of the Educational Amendments of 1972. The language of Title IX protects students from discrimination on the basis of their sex in educational programs. It applies to public schools and also to colleges across the country. Title IX helps ensure that female students theoretically have the same rights and protections as male students.

One of the more common reasons that college and university students end up making Title IX claims against educational institutions is sexual assault on campus. Schools generally do a very poor job of protecting female students from sexual violence. Research looking at reports of sexual assaults on college campuses has identified a “red zone” at the beginning of the school year when a significant portion of sexual assaults usually occur.

What is the red zone?

Researchers have identified the weeks between when students first arrive on campus and Thanksgiving as the riskiest time for sexual assault on campus. Approximately 50% of all reported sexual assaults occur during those early weeks. An influx of new students meeting each other for the first time and a large number of parties on campus create an environment in which sexual assault is a bigger concern. Young adults away from home for the first time might fall victim to the manipulations of predatory students with nefarious intentions.

How colleges can help

Information about the risks of sexual assault on college campuses is widely available, and those working in administrative positions at universities should prioritize creating safe study and living environments for students. Educating students about consent, having secure residential facilities and making the reporting process accessible to those recently victimized on campus are all ways for colleges to better comply with Title IX.

All too often, female students sexually assaulted on campus end up needing to take legal action because the school where the assault occurred does not respond appropriately to the situation. A Title IX lawsuit can prompt major changes at an educational institution and can compensate a student for the losses they may have suffered because of violence on campus.

Learning about the red zone and Title IX in general may benefit those returning to campus and those hoping to pursue justice after an act of violence at school.