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To stop sexual assault, male students to be asked for their ‘man cards’

By Mark Rosa

During the months of October and November men on Utah State University’s campus may be approached by someone asking them to whip out their “man card.”

But it’s not harassment — it’s a campaign by the university’s Sexual Abuse and Anti-Violence Information Office, also known as SAAVI, to spread awareness about a span of time, from the start of school through Thanksgiving, when the percentage of rapes on college campuses goes up.

This time period has become known as “the red zone.”

The man card campaign centers around a pledge made by men to never commit or stay silent about an act of sexual abuse, and was kicked off at SAAVI’s red zone activity on Sept. 22. The main event of the activity was the signing of the pledge written across a banner. Men who signed the pledge received their very own “man card” so that they would always be reminded of the pledge they made.

“It’s to get more of a masculine side of it that it’s not just a women’s problem,” said Kurt Kowal, a SAAVI intern.

Kowal said during the red zone, he and others will be walking around campus asking men if they have their “man card.” If the man can present his card, he’ll win a prize. This is to encourage men to keep their cards on them and keep the dialogue about sexual abuse fresh, so it doesn’t retreat into taboo status again.

Kowal believes the best way to help solve the problem is to inform the student population, establish clear communication and define boundaries.

With the semester, and the red zone, in full swing, USU’s SAAVI office wants all students on high alert. Another SAAVI intern, Teisha Greer, said most causes of the red zone effect stem from the inexperience and naiveté of young students in new and unfamiliar situations.

“Students are unaware… they’re experiencing, learning about themselves, testing their boundaries, and it unfortunately can cause unsafe situations,” Greer said.

Greer stressed education and awareness in order to avoid dangerous situations — and the duty people have to stand up for others if they witness an act of abuse.

“People who remain silent when they see things going on could intervene and help,” Greer said. “If we can speak up and step in whenever we can — that’s a big part of it.”

– mdl/ks