General Assssignments Reporter
Students may have heard the expression before that someone’s behavior, whether it be a boyfriend, girlfriend, family member or even stranger raises a “red flag.” That something is wrong and the Men’s Initiative at Southern is taking this saying literally by participating the Red Flag Campaign.
James Hoffecker, graduate intern with the Men’s Initiative, said the campaign will take place from Oct. 3-7 and students will notice red flags placed around campus during this time.
“The campaign is designed to be very, very visual,” said Hoffecker. “The red flags are symbolic for the red flags in an unhealthy relationship. So you’ll see posters around campus with people holding red flags with words written on them or phrases that indicate unhealthy relationships.”
Hoffecker said the campaign is nationwide and originated in Virginia. According to the Red Flag Campaign website, in 21 percent, the equivalent of one in five college relationships, one of the partners is being abused. The campaign is designed to address dating violence and encourage the prevention of dating violence on college campuses.
The website states the campaign is a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and was started by college students, college personnel and community victim advocates. It is funded by grants from the Verizon Foundation, Verizon Wireless, Macy’s Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hoffecker said there are a couple of events that will be going on as part of the campaign, one being “tweet this,” about what to be aware of when using social networking websites; the other, a showing of “Telling Amy’s Story,” a domestic violence case.
“Videos are great because they get someone engaged in an issue. Particularly, when it gets them thinking of someone else it doesn’t come across as accusatory,” said Hoffecker. “Then people can really have a great convo about domestic violence disputes.”
Hoffecker said there are a number of other programs the Men’s Initiative puts on throughout the year.
“We also provide resources on campus,” said Hoffecker. “We’re also just there if someone wants to come and just chat, we can put them in touch with counseling services or other resources that are available.”
The Men’s Initiative is located in Schwartz Hall and has been at Southern for three years as a way to get men to take a stand against gender violence, said Hoffecker.
“There’s issues of men’s health involved with it,” said Hoffecker, “as well as addressing what is a healthy or unhealthy relationship.”
Jaquan Brinkley-Johnson, a junior advertisement and promotion major, helps design flyers for the initiative and said he became involved through a friend.
“It’s college,” said Brinkely-Johnson, “and we need to know, men and women, how to stay healthy.”
Brinkley-Johnson said he thinks one of the most important things students can do is to educate themselves about how common sexual abuse is.
“As far as rape and gender violence, even though a lot of people don’t talk about it,” said Brinkley-Johnson, “it really does happen a lot out there more than we think. Don’t just be a bystander just watching it even though you’re not involved.”
Marcus Lewis, a junior liberal studies major, is also a part of the Men’s Initiative and like Brinkley-Johnson he also believes getting involved when someone is being abused is important.
“Speaking out, confronting the person, telling them ‘look, I know what you’re doing me’ and you need to take about it or we can go somewhere we can talk and bring them down to Schwartz,” said Lewis, “I would say that would be the best first step.”
Lewis said he also became involved in the Men’s Initiative through a friend and thinks it’s an important program to have for students.
“We need to educate ourselves to keep ourselves healthy both mentally and physically,” said Lewis, “and also just to let them know that there’s a place to actually receive help if a friend is in a bad situation where they are being abused or if they might know someone else who is actually doing the abusing.
To continue the program in the future, Hoffecker said it’s important to make the campus community aware that this type of initiative does exist through outreach and information tables.
“People are starting to pick up what the Men’s Initiative is,” said Hoffecker. “That’s really important, just being visible on campus and getting to know the students and getting them to know what this work is about.”
Red Flag campaign returns to Southern to raise awareness of unhealthy dating this month