UTPD teaches self-defense strategies to community

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Enrollment in the UT Police Department’s Rape Aggression Defense class has remained consistent with past semester averages despite recent conversations surrounding campus safety, said UTPD Lt.
Laura Davis. 

The RAD System is a national self-defense program that has been taught by trained UTPD officers since 2001. RAD was originally funded through a grant by the student organization Voices Against Violence, which offers dating violence prevention and response programs. Since then, the class has been offered to female students, faculty and staff two to three times each semester.

On average, 15 to 20 women enroll in each RAD session. While the department saw attendance increase to as many as 40 women last spring and summer after dance freshman Haruka Weiser’s death last April, fall enrollment remained consistent with past semester averages, Davis said. However, interest and enrollment in the course is traditionally cyclical, Davis said. 

“Enrollment tends to be cyclical depending on what’s going on in the community, like we had a lot of enrollment after 9/11, or in cases where (APD warns of) a serial rapist in town, things like that,” Davis said. 

During RAD courses, which are divided into four-hour blocks across three days, women learn basic crime prevention, physical self-defense techniques and techniques for handling violent situations such as an attempted abduction or active shooter. 

“It’s not a stand and fight philosophy; it is to get away and be safe,” Davis said. “You are going to have some techniques that some people will say aren’t practical — but it’s not necessarily to defeat the person that’s coming at you, it’s about getting out of that situation and getting safe. Overall it’s brought about awareness in the community.”

While the class is typically restricted to women, a men’s RAD class has been offered in the past, Davis said. However, because of a lack of interest among the male population at UT, it has been several years since UTPD has held the class for men.

Kristin Erkman, human dimensions of organizations junior, completed UTPD’s RAD course last fall with a group of her friends and said she feels safer on a day-to-day basis because of the skills she learned in the course. 

“(My friends and I) used to joke about it afterward that we could go anywhere without feeling like we needed any kind of weapon, because we had the (self-defense) knowledge no matter what the situation was,” Erkman said. “People think (an assault) won’t happen to them, but it’s real, and it happened last year. It happens all the time, and you need to know it.”

Psychology junior Hailey Humann, who also completed the class last fall, said more women at UT should enroll in the course.

“Nobody thinks they’ll be the one to be attacked, and the truth is that you probably won’t be, but it can’t hurt to learn,” Hunmann said. “I think more people should take it. It really wasn’t hard or intimidating, and the UTPD officers were great.”

Due to a temporary shortage of trained staffers, UTPD is only offering the RAD course once this spring. UTPD’s RAD course will be offered next Monday through Wednesday at the UTPD station and is free to all female students, faculty and staff. Registration is currently open on UTPD’s website.