UI police self-defense class works to revamp program due to long waitlist

UIPD+instructors+dress+in+padded+gear+used+in+the+courses.

Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Police Department

UIPD instructors dress in padded gear used in the courses.

By Heather Robinson, Staff Writer

With the previous semester seeing several sexual violence related incidents, many students and community members alike are anxious to gain awareness and learn how to defend themselves in dangerous situations.

One popular method of outreach conducted by the University of Illinois Police Department and other organizations nationwide is the Rape Aggression Defense self-defense class.

According to Barb Robbins, lieutenant at UIPD, the $30 class consists of three weeks of self-defense training and different resources that are available to students and personal safety. The fourth and final week concludes with a simulation led by an officer that allows for the participants to put their new techniques into practice. 

“People think it’s weird that we tell students to walk where there is lighted areas, and to stay on the paths, to not be cutting across this or behind a building. Of course students in the cold just want to get home as fast as they can. We tell them the downside of walking behind buildings and not in lighted areas,” said Robbins.

Robbins said there is currently a much higher demand than there is room in each class, which at this time only allows for a maximum of 15 to 20 students. 

Lara Pur, senior in LAS, wanted to sign up for R.A.D. but noticed there was a waitlist for the class and did not register.

“Learning how to do these things and having that self-security that you know you can rely on yourself if someone tries to jump you on the street gives us a lot of freedom, and it helps us have more confidence being on our own in the wide, wide world,” Pur said.

Pur said the longer she’s been here, she’s grown increasingly jaded about the University’s willingness to allocate resources to its students’ well-being. 

“For things like self-defense classes, that’s something that especially with recent events a lot of students should have access to. They should be opening that up to students, but it’s not happening. That just makes me feel terrible as a student,” Pur said. 

Near the end of 2019, tension emerged between the University and its students who called for attention to the University’s lack of services, specifically those offered at the Counseling Center. 

Robbins estimates that the waitlist currently holds 100 students. However, as of recently, the department has been working on ways to revamp the program, to allow for increased outreach. 

The new plan aims to shorten the length of the class, while increasing the amount of spots available to accommodate 25 to 30 students per class instead of 15 to 20. The reformed program will most likely exclude the simulation portion, but will overall allow for a wider range of students to partake in the class. 

“I want to be able to know that if I needed to defend myself as an adult woman alone, I could,” Purr said.

[email protected]