Many college freshmen are moving into their dorms ahead of the fall semester, and a new video created by a young woman hopes to help her peers avoid potential dangers.
What began as a freely distributed film in 2006 has grown into a "million girl revolution combating violence against young women." With one in four women experiencing sexual assault and a third of young women enduring dating abuse, Dallas Jessup, who founded the Just Yell Fire nonprofit at 14, released a new video to help protect young co-eds on campus.
5 TIPS TO STAY SAFE
1. Be cautious at parties. Date rape drugs are prevalent at college parties and many are impossible to detect without a test kit, so it's important to never set down a drink and come back to it.
2. Go with groups. It's also best to go to parties or unknown areas with a group and leave with that group. In the interim, the group can watch out for its members -- especially when alcohol is involved because personalities can change under the influence.
3. Choose well-lit ATMs and parking lots. Making a stop at a cash machine is a common for college students, but predators can use ATMs in less-traveled locations as a hunting ground. Dark parking lots are also a dangerous spot, but if there are no other options, remember that there is safety in numbers and campus security guards will escort a student to a vehicle.
4. Lock doors to prevent hall-cruising assaults. A significant amount of on-campus violence comes from hall cruising. This occurs when innocent-looking predators gain access to a dormitory, residence hall or sorority home with the help of trusting residents and then prowl the halls to check for unlocked doors and victims.
5. Use campus shuttles. Late night trips to the library or social visits are a part of college life, but walking at night is a risk. Remember, campuses are open to outsiders from all directions, and catching a lift can take you past a predator waiting to pounce.
WATCH ONLINE FOR FREE: http://www.justyellfire.com/movie.php
Freshman Kali Kaliska told FOX 9 News she is excited about being on her own for the first time this semester at the University of Minnesota.
"I'm going to be doing sorority stuff," Kaliska said. "I got a job, [and am] trying out for the Lacrosse team."
College is a time for young people to enjoy exploring new experiences, but campus can be a dangerous place for young women. A quarter of female college students will experience rape or attempted rape, and that's something that Kaliska is concerned about.
"I feel kind of defenseless," she admitted.
Kaliska's parents have been preaching the importance of personal safety practices -- and for good reason. Two of their older daughters, who attended different universities, once had something slipped into their drink. Thankfully, however, neither was assaulted.
"They were like, 'Mom, we didn't set it down very long. We all stood around the bar,'" recalled Carrie Kaliska. "I said, 'It doesn't take much. You guys have got to be more careful when you leave and go to the bathroom. You hand your drink to a friend.'"
Date rape drugs are just one reason the campus-version of Just Yell Fire was created, and one of the several tips in the co-ed safety film is to never leave a drink unattended.
"Students are coming in with this notion of having a good time and finding themselves and not necessarily focusing on the fact that they may be the target of some type of violence," Katie Eichele said.
Eichele is the director of the Aurora Center, an organization at the University of Minnesota that helps survivors of sexual assault and those who are concerned about it. Although they once emphasized the importance of fighting back, the group is now turning its attention to a program called "Step Up," which encourages anyone who sees something to say something.
"That empowers both men and women to ask questions and pull someone away from what they think I a potentially dangerous situation," Eichele explained.
In the end, the Aurora Center believes the true prevention strategy is working with men to talk about gender roles and the sexualization of women.
Several videos have begun to emerge online in the form of short PSAs that encourage men to seek clear consent and respond responsibly to situations where a woman may be vulnerable.
WATCH 'A NEEDED MESSAGE': http://youtu.be/eZxv5WCWivM
Recently, a crowd-funded IndieGoGo campaign also raised $50,000 to develop color-changing glassware and straws that can notify someone if their drink has been tampered with.
The Aurora Center: http://www1.umn.edu/aurora/