Students walk across Broad Street in downtown Athens, Georgia, on Monday, April 2, 2018. (Photo/Rebecca Wright, http://rebeccamariewright.com/)

August in Athens means move-in and the excitement for the new school year, but under this energy lies something darker. Students are at higher risk of sexual assault at the start of the new school term. For the sake of their wellbeing, students must understand their heightened safety threat.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), more than 50 percent of sexual assaults in college happen from August to November, having the most occurrences in the first few months of the first and second semester of freshman year. However, coupled with the fact that many of these assaults go unreported, the true severity of these statistics remain unknown.

Unfortunately, the University of Georgia is not a stranger to sexual assault. In just 2017, the UGA Police Department reported 13 instances of rape on campus, with one gaining notable attention. The rape outside of Moore-Rooker hall on Sep. 30 caught many students’ attention when a flyer circulated around campus stating the University did not inform the students. 

If UGA continues to under-report sexual assault statistics, students must then educate themselves. Luckily for students, many resources exist on-campus and online. The UGA Police Department keeps daily crime reports, allowing students to see the number of rapes and sexual assaults reported on campus. In addition to that, RSVP (Relationship & Sexual Violence Protection) is an on-campus organization teaching people how to spot potentially dangerous situations and mitigating further instances of interpersonal violence.

For example, RSVP warns students to be aware of their surroundings surroundings and avoid secluded places, especially with someone they don’t know well. In addition, students should have a safety plan in place (like a buddy system) with at least one friend before heading out and avoid people displaying controlling behavior and don’t respect the limits of others.

In the midst of new-term excitement, do not forget the danger poised behind every inebriation, locked dorm room, or lone walks home. A sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds. A little bit of awareness can keep you from raising the statistic.

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