Author: Emily Bell
Occidental’s Campus Safety Department will be offering a new self-defense course to female students late this semester. The program is called Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) and is a national program, taught on many other college campuses, designed to train individuals on how to react in violent situations. The class will be taught by three Occidental Campus Safety officers who received training during the summer to become certified RAD instructors. It will be 12 hours in duration, broken up into four separate three-hour segments.
Director of Campus Safety Holly Nieto said that she has been planning to implement the program for some time.
“I’m doing the program now because I can. I wanted to do this
for ten years and the timing has come together,” she said. “I have the financial resources right now. This is
coming out of my department’s budget, I can pay for the training, I can
pay for the equipment, I have the books available and I have the right
the class, both students and instructors practice defense moves while
wearing protective padding. Students also receive an instructional book
to supplement these hands-on lessons. At the end of the course, students
have the option of placing themselves in a staged situation in which they must defend
themselves against an attacker.
Politics Department Chair, Professor Caroline Heldman, who has taught RAD classes in the past, praised the empowerment that the program provides for women in times of violence.
“I think that a lot of women learn to fear violence in a way that
becomes incapacitating in times of crisis. RAD is important because it
demystifies that. Once you get used to situations where you’re
threatened with physical violence, even if it’s hypothetical, you learn
tools for responding that are much better than simply freezing,” Heldman said.
The program will be offered exclusively to female
students during its first two semesters, but according to Nieto, a male
class will also be offered down the road.
“At a future time, once we
get this program rolled out, I will send officers to get trained for the
male component because we understand that men can be victims of rape as
well. But, like anything, you have to phase it in. We are responding
because we know, we understand that the greater number is where women
are victimized, so we have to deal with the numbers first,” Nieto said.
While RAD is receiving praise, some Occidental community members find fault with the program’s lack of emphasis on acquaintance rape.
“I find it somewhat problematic that the types of scenarios presented in RAD focus on stranger rape, and the epidemic of college rape and sexual assault is not predominantly stranger rape. It’s generally people that you know,” Heldman said.
The creators of RAD express in its mission statement a commitment to helping others create a safer future for themselves, and helping create a society in which violence is not an acceptable part of daily life.
“I went through [the RAD program] as a student and it gave me skills that I remember to this day. It can be life-empowering,” Nieto said.
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