Amajla Tricic, News Editor
UC is participating in the Red Flag Campaign with the placement of 200 red flags on the Strebel Center front lawn to raise awareness on dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The campaign combats these ideas by using bystander intervention strategies. The Red Flag Campaign will continue throughout October in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month.
A series of posters can be seen throughout campus that illustrate the warning signs someone might see in harmful relationships and encourages students to speak up or intervene if they see these red flags.
Area Coordinator Lauren Waszkiewicz, who brought the campaign to UC, said the campaign was created for college students in 2005.
“It was developed by sexual and domestic violence prevention experts, college students, victim advocates, and college personnel,” Waszkiewicz said. “In the fall of 2005, the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance submitted a proposal to the Verizon Foundation to forge a multi-year partnership on an exciting new project: the Commonwealth Campus Campaign. The vision behind the campaign was to create the first statewide awareness and education campaign designed specifically to address dating violence among students on Virginia’s college and university campuses.”
The Red Flag Campaign first launched in October 2006 as a test pilot on 10 Virginia campuses, and by 2007 it was available to campuses outside of Virginia. Waszkiewicz’s drive to bring RFC to Utica College dated back to seeing her best friend in an abusive relationship during her high school and college years.
“To the untrained eye, their relationship seemed normal and happy,” she said. “But there were so many red flags I only recognized after my friend got the courage to disclose to me—years after the abuse had started.”
She said more than half of all college students—57 percent—say it is difficult to identify dating abuse. She wanted to find a program that would encourage students to make a difference.
“In fall of 2017, I started looking at programs, educational campaigns, and training to bring to Utica College to educate our students, faculty, and staff on domestic, dating and sexual violence,” she said. “I learned about the Red Flag Campaign during my research and immediately knew it would be a good fit for Utica College because it is a fact-based, evaluated awareness campaign that focuses on college students.”
Waszkiewicz mentioned that the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health saw positive exposure with the RFC during their conducted pilot evaluation where they randomly sampled 263 colleges.
“Analyses showed that greater exposure to The Red Flag Campaign was associated with more positive bystander attitudes and bystander efficacy,” she said. “It’s proven to work.”
Once Waszkiewicz was committed to bringing the campaign to UC, she reached out to different groups and organizations in the community and on campus.
“A small committee consisting of a representative from the Womyn’s Resource Center, Mohawk Valley YWCA, SAAC, and UC’s Title IX, as well as myself, was formed and we met to discuss the many events planned for April in regards to dating and sexual violence,” she said. “Lisa Green was approached by a member of Kristin’s Fund, a local non-profit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence, and we received a generous donation to start the Red Flag Campaign.”
According to Waszkiewicz, the school has plans to continue educating the campus long after October ends.
“Workshops, speakers and interactive events where students pledge to ‘Say something’ are all in the works,” Waszkiewicz said. “I’m also open to more ideas and would love to have more students involved.”
The Womyn’s Resource Center (WRC) was one of the organizations that helped set up the flags and put posters up. They were also involved with the micro-art gallery that features the history of the Red Flag Campaign along with similar ideas to the posters displayed around campus.
Hermina Garic, an administrative intern at WRC and president of Student Government Association, said the organization got involved because it seemed like “a natural fit.”
“We work with the Title IX office and also the SLCE office,” she said. “Lauren Crandwell reached out to us because she was really concerned with students not understanding what relationship violence looks like. WRC and Title IX have always worked on that and that is why we partnered together.”
Garic explained the campaign focuses on knowing the signs of abuse before it happens.
“I’ve seen a lot of students come up to me and say, ‘Yeah, I don’t understand how people don’t understand this,’ so this is a first real step to push for raising awareness,” she said.