One out of five college students are victims of dating violence, according to The Red Flag Campaign’s website. The Red Flag Campaign is a national initiative to end dating violence that has recently been introduced to campus through the Center for Student Well-Being.
Danielle Smith, the Health Promotion Specialist at the Center for Student Well-Being, is spearheading this campaign.
“The Red Flag Campaign is usually initiated during October, which is domestic violence awareness month,” Smith said. “It’s a visual display for students to recognize warning signs and dating violence in a friends’ relationship. It focuses on being an active bystander in a friend’s relationship, and recognizing harmful or unhealthy relationship characteristics and saying something and approaching that red flag.”
To illustrate this point, the Center for Student Well-Being is doing pop-up events for the month of October. On Oct. 9 12–3 p.m. the lawn outside of the Greek Village will be peppered with red flags.
Every Monday for the entirety of the month they will announce a new location for the flags. The purpose of the flags is to represent potential warning signs of abuse in relationships.
“Students will come up and take a flag out of the ground,” Smith said. “They write on the flag one warning sign whether it has been something that has happened to them or something they have seen in a friend, or that they need to look out for themselves.”
According to Smith, the main purpose of the campaign is to teach students how to be active bystanders. It informs people of common ‘red flags’ they can look for to stop a situation from escalating into dating violence. It also opens up the discussion to students and allows them to interact with each other, to form a community.
“It’s really cool because as the day goes on you will see students walking in and out of all the flags and reading all the warning signs. That’s a main part of the campaign, learning.” said Smith.
In addition to the flags there are Red Flag Healthy Relationships Discussion Groups, which focus on group discussions about safe and healthy relationships. The first group meeting is Oct. 19 3-4 p.m. in MSC 3705.
Courtney Becker, the Associate Director for the Center for Student Well-Being, praises the interactivity of the campaign and how it gets students involved in serious issues.
“We love the idea of how visual a red flag was and that we can use that to get the information quickly out to students,” Becker said. “There is also a social media presence so students who walk by the red flags see the flags, and people who may not be walking around campus still can see it.”
The Red Flag Campaign is part of a larger operation by the Center for Student Well-Being called the Green Dot Initiative. The Green Dot Initiative aims to educate and train people on how to prevent and deal with dating violence and abuse.
“If you think about it, a map has a red dot that means something bad happened, maybe an epidemic popped up or there was violence in that area,” Smith said. “The green dot is focusing on covering up those red dots from violence.
“We just finished the Green Dot Campaign which is a 30-day social media campaign where we had students holding up scenarios of things they have done to stop violence in their communities like helping a friend get home safely.”