Reclaiming the Red Zone

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The start of every school year offers great promise, possibility, and potential for all returning students. However, it is during this time that students can also face immense challenges, like the stress of academic pressure, isolation in new cities, and unfortunately, violence. The start of the fall semester, from September 1st to October 10th, has recently been dubbed the “Red Zone” where students are statistically more likely to experience sexual assault and violence. Due to limited education about consent and sexual violence, increased partying between September 1 and October 10, and a multitude of other factors associated with young people entering an unfamiliar space, many students are faced with the terrible and jarring reality of the Red Zone – especially marginalized students. However, through proper education and awareness about this Red Zone, campus can be made into a safer place, free from sexual violence. Therefore, it is vital for students, and all campus members, to be made aware of the Red Zone, and reclaim this space.  

Reclaiming the Red Zone means being an active bystander and fighting for change here in our own community. Some upcoming opportunities include the Take Back the Night Rally on September 15th from 5 PM – 8 PM on Gaukel St. Kitchener, and Laurier’s September 20th Rally against sexual violence on campus. From September 20th-22nd at 11 AM – 2 PM in the SLC, WUSA will also have booths set up where students can leave their mark on a mural showing support for their fellow students and survivors of sexual violence. Consent week begins September 19th as well, helping students to understand what consent does and does not look like. 

 According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), consent should be “… clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries. Consent cannot be given by individuals who are underage, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious.” Consent is not continuing to engage with partners who are unenthusiastic, upset, or unresponsive; ultimately consent is all about informed and open communication between partners. 


At the University of Waterloo, we have several resources which can help nurture a culture where getting consent is a priority. If you know or are someone in a dangerous or abusive situation, please reach out to the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO), where you can find an extensive list of helplines, counselling services and safety related resources. WUSA also recommends visiting the Women’s Centre here at UWaterloo, where you can find a safe space for open discussions with an intersectional lens. They can also help connect you with resources about sexual health, healthy relationships, mental health, contraceptive methods, and more. We are also proud to feature a dedicated University of Waterloo Sexual Violence Task Force, in response to the provincial plan It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment , formed in March 2015. The goals of the task force are to create a campus culture where the impacts of sexual violence are understood and well responded to, and to create a campus culture where strong efforts are made to prevent sexual violence. The Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (HREI) Office also works on normalizing dialogue about consent and exploring ways to engage in healthy, positive, respectful relationships with each other, while embedding consent in our daily practices. 

Links to learn more: 


  • Black History Month 2023: Black Resistance

    February 1, 2023

  • 2023 General Meeting Notice

    January 30, 2023

  • Consent Week 2023: WUSA’s Sexual Violence Prevention Plans and Priorities

    January 26, 2023

  • Consent: Your Right and Responsibility 

    January 23, 2023