Initiative looks to raise the red flags
By MOLLY WALTER
Special to The Hays Daily News
As part of Domestic Violence Awareness month, Fort Hays State University's Women's Leadership Project is hosting its fourth annual Red Flag Campaign. The Red Flag Campaign is a college initiative that raises awareness of domestic violence on college campuses.
"It's about making students aware of what red flags or warning signs in relationships are and encouraging friends and family to say something when they see a red flag in a dating relationship or just a friend relationship," said junior Sadie Lungren, co-coordinator for WLP.
The Red Flag Campaign started in Virginia when a group of colleges came together to stop domestic violence on their campuses. When an FHSU student in 2010 heard about it, she approached Christie Brungardt, director of WLP, and suggested FHSU participate.
"She thought it would be a great program to bring to campus, and it has been," Brungardt said.
The campaign is more about raising awareness of domestic violence, not necessarily counseling those that have been affected.
"We're really a great deal about prevention and education. But we are not trained counselors, so if someone discloses to us that they've had these issues, we will either send them to the Kelly Center or to the Options campus advocate," Brungardt said.
To remind everyone to address red flags in relationships, during the month of October, WLP has placed red flags around campus. Red flags were also present at Oktoberfest on Friday.
Besides the red flags on campus, WLP is also hosting several events and speaking at freshman seminars.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, WLP set up a table in the Memorial Union and encouraged students to fill out their own red flags.
"Blaming, isolation and jealousy were common ones," said senior Holly Weiss, co-coordinator for WLP. "There's a lot of creativity in what they would put on their flags. One guy put lies really small and just covered the flag in that one word."
Another common red flag was stalking.
"Several girls made flags about it, and I had no idea it was that big of an issue. Stalking is really prominent, more so than you would think, and that's against the law. I never imagined it would be that big of a problem," Lungren said.
Brungardt pointed out that was a perfect example of why the Red Flag Campaign so powerful.
"A lot of students and adults don't even know that (stalking) isn't OK," Brungardt said.
WLP also will partner with FHSU's Defensive Tactics Club to host a self-defense workshop Saturday, open to anyone 12 and older.
This is the first year Weiss and Lungren have helped with the campaign, and they've both had some eye-opening experiences.
"It's really humbling for me to see that this really is a problem. It's a great experience to be able to talk to girl and guys both who have been affected by it," Lungren said.
Brungardt has been a part of the campaign all four years it has been at FHSU.
"Everyone has always been positive about the Red Flag Campaign, but hasn't always engaged in it. And now I feel like we are truly covering campus and beyond," Brungardt said.