Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) began offering monthly women’s self-defense classes aimed at rape prevention this semester, as part of the nation-wide Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program, NDSP crime prevention officer Keri Kei Shibata said.
RAD classes were offered previously by request for groups of women, such as dorms or student groups, a few times a year. The classes were not otherwise scheduled because there was not enough interest to justify the cost, Shibata said.
But this year, NDSP got new instructors for the RAD program and began to schedule classes open to all female students, faculty and staff.
“The goal was [to offer a class] every other month but because there was so much interest we’ve done it every month,” she said.
The course is 12 hours and is usually broken into four, three-hour sessions. The first two classes offered this semester have been on Monday and Wednesday evenings for two weeks, Shibata said.
“The first class is mostly focused on awareness and prevention,” she said. “And then the rest of the class is focused on physical technique.
The classes focus on repetitions of the techniques to make them instinctive, Shibata said.
One course was offered in September, and the first session of the October class began on Monday evening. Shibata said the class planned for November will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and is already filled.
“We’re just trying to mix the scheduling up so people can take it with the varying schedules,” she said.
A minimum of 12 participants is required to hold a class, and there is a maximum of 20 women in each class, Shibata said. Participants pay a fee of $5 to cover the cost of the textbooks.
The September class was filled with mostly faculty and staff, Shibata said, although the October and November classes are roughly half students and half faculty and staff.
Although she said she does not think the amount of crime itself has increased, Shibata said awareness about crime in the Notre Dame and South Bend area has risen.
“In the last couple years there’s been a lot of awareness and attention on crime in the area,” she said.
This attention may have contributed to the interest in the RAD class this year, Shibata said.
NDSP has also received positive feedback from participants and hopes to continue to expand RAD classes, she said.
“People have been very positive and felt like they’ve learned a lot,” Shibata said. “One good thing about RAD is there’s a come back and practice clause.”
With this clause, past participants can attend a RAD class offered anywhere in the country to relearn and practice their skills.
In the future, Shibata said the classes at Notre Dame may expand to include the RAD program for men.
Although the scheduled classes are already filled, interested women can contact Shibata through NDSP to receive advance notice about the next class offering.