Red Flag Campaign bringing awareness to domestic violence

by:CHESANIE BRANTLEY/Editor-in-Chief 

Red flags cover the ground of the Levelland campus of South Plains College in an effort to bring to light issues involving domestic violence.

The Red Flag Campaign originated in Virginia and has spread across the country as a way to approach domestic violence, according to Jill Zesiger, a counselor at SPC.

Zesiger said that by the time she came to work for SPC in August, Dr. Lynn Cleavinger, director of Health and Wellness, had already done most of the leg work to get the campaign up and running.

“When I interviewed for the job, that was part of the job description,” recalled Zesiger. “It turned out to work really well with my personality.”

According to Zesiger, the Red Flag Campaign goes hand in hand with the new program, “Don’t Cancel That Class.” Within that program, professors can call and schedule Zesiger for a day when they will not be able to make it to class, and she will cover the class. When she covers the class, she has plans to discuss topics along the lines of what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like and what resources are available to students.

“It doesn’t take up their teaching time, and it’s a resource that’s offered,” said Zesiger. Zesiger said that the main goal of the Red Flag Campaign on campus is to bring awareness to the topic of domestic violence.

“One of the things I always ask when I go into the classrooms is, ‘How many reports or incidents (of domestic violence) do you think have been reported at South Plains College?’ and I get a lot of random answers,” said Zesiger.

According to Zesiger, there were no incidents reported at SPC. But she follows up with the question, why do you think there were no incidents reported? She said the majority of the answers were because he or she was scared to report it. She said they have seen success with the campaign so far.

“Our vision is to make it a topic that people can begin to talk about and feel comfortable talking about it,” Zesiger explained. “That’s really the first step in preventing things from happening.”

Zesiger said that with domestic violence especially, it happens because it is a secret. She said it happens behind closed doors, and people do not feel that they can talk to anyone about it.

“It happens in really personal places, with personal people or relationships, and it’s not OK to talk about,” Zesiger said. “So, if we can get it out in the open and put light on it and make it OK to talk about, then people are comfortable doing something about it.”

According to Zesiger, during the upcoming spring semester, the Health and Wellness Center is planning to work with Voice of Hope in Lubbock to have a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event at SPC. She said the goal is that the event will bring even more awareness to domestic violence and get more involvement from students and the public. She said it will also give people an opportunity to take an active stand against things that they see or experienced in their life.

“To coincide with that, our office is in the process of creating a consent video with the men of South Plains College,” Zesiger explained. “It’s a really fun time to work in this office.”

Zesiger said the goal of the video is to change the culture of the men of South Plains College when it comes to consent. She said the two topics coincide with each other to really start changing the culture on campus.

“Use the resources we have here (at the Health and Wellness Center),” Zesiger says to students. “We are super fun to work with and I think that’s a huge component of why this campaign has been so successful.”

The Health and Wellness Center has also been working with the SPC Athletic Department, Student Affairs, Housing, the Levelland Police Department. the SPC Police Department, Voice of Hope in Lubbock and Women’s Protection Services in Lubbock in their quest against domestic violence. Other organizations interested in getting involved with programs can contact the Health and Wellness Center for more information.

Zesiger said as far as eradicating domestic violence on campus, it is up to the students. She said bystander intervention is the framework behind the Red Flag Campaign. So, the students are really who the campaign depends on to change campus culture.

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