Defense class brings security to UI women

By Stephanie Gomes

Shouts of “No!” echoed within the multipurpose room in Campus Recreation Center East on Wednesday evening. Five females attended the Rape Aggression Defense self-defense class where they were taught defense techniques that could save their lives if attacked.

“What if you were walking down campus and someone grabs you, you have to react immediately,” said Tony Ortiz, University police officer and the self-defense instructor, to his students circled around him.

For three hours, the women reviewed various blocks, punches, kicks and security strategies.

“Most women have never hit anything in their lives and they have a fear that they’re powerless,” said Sgt. Joan Fiesta, University police officer and self-defense instructor trainer. “In this program we show women that they are not powerless against an aggressor.”

Women need to know they do not have to be physically strong to defend themselves, said Terree White, University accounting technician and student in Ortiz’s class.

“As a female, (the class) gives you a heightened sense of security that you can protect yourself,” White said

Rape Aggression Defense is a national program and has trained more than 300,000 women since it began in 1989, according to its Web site. The program is broken down into four classes on Wednesday evenings and is taught in a series of lectures and drills. Once a student completes the course, he can come back for free additional training.

“I’m living alone for the first time off campus, and I have to walk home alone at night,” said Melissa Oglesby, class member and a senior in Business. “I’ve learned to be aware of what’s around me and how to use my body effectively to protect myself.”

Ortiz said by attending, these women can not only protect themselves, but also their family members.

“By having these skills, people have been able to save other people’s lives,” he said.

White said she took the class in October to protect herself and returned for additional training. Another advantage of the program is that it’s not excluded to just college students, she added.

“I’m obviously not the youngest one here, but Tony was really accommodating to whatever age you are,” White said.

With sexual assaults being an ongoing problem at the University, all females should consider attending Rape Aggression Defense, White said.

“We all should be responsible for our own personal safety,” she said.