BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) - At college campuses across the country, students are headed back to school.
Experts with RAINN, a Washington D.C. based group that works to prevent sexual violence say more than half of campus sexual assaults take place this time year.
At UC Berkeley, orientation week for freshmen is underway. Students say they're learning to take precautions as they prepare classes to start next Wednesday.
Researchers call this time of the school year: from the start of the school year in August until Thanksgiving break in November, the red zone.
Cal freshmen said this is an exciting time.
"I like how everyone is passionate and driven. And I feel like it'll push me to work hard more. But of course, I want to have fun and have that college experience," said Jessica Zheng, a freshman.
That experience and freedom come with living away from home for the first time.
Students plan to attend parties.
Experts say inexperience with alcohol and drugs, combined with the anxiety of starting a new chapter of their lives, can leave students, particularly young women, vulnerable to sexual violence.
Students say they have a new awareness
"There are so many resources here which is part of the reason why I like Berkeley.
They have so many things you can do and so many things to help you," said Sophie Cloarec, a freshman.
Students say during orientation this week, they've learned that Cal offers confidential support and services to survivors of sexual violance through its Path to Care Center.
They have also learned safety tips.
"Don't leave your drink down. Always stay with friends, but a big part is picking who you stick with," said Natalie Bautista, a freshman.
"Don't take drinks from people you don't know. When you walk in the door, don't just take their drinks. Pour yourself your own cup because you never know who's pouring what in what drink," said Zheng.
The Department of Justice says 90 percent of sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances.
and attacks often take place Saturdays and Sundays between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
"I think that's the worse part. Who do you trust ?" said Bautista.
Experts say college students regard campus like a second home and they let their guard down.
They advise young people to trust their instincts and don't be talked into doing something they're uncomfortable with.