Student club takeover of self-defense is ultimately positive

Senior+Isabel+Saavedra-Weis+helps+with+an+example+during+the+self+defense+class.+

Izzy Gisser

Senior Isabel Saavedra-Weis helps with an example during the self defense class.

Students had the opportunity to take a self-defense course on Apr. 17 led by a representative of Not Me!, a Minnesota-based organization with the mission of giving self-defense training to as many people as possible. They offer a variety of courses for different age levels including middle school, high school, college, and corporate. In the past, self-defense lessons were offered only to seniors in male / female groups during senior class retreat.

Feeling a desire to see self-defense offered, HerSpace jumped into action to continue the awareness about sexual assault, this time, extending this opportunity to the whole student body. They reached out to other groups to facilitate collaboration, and the event was co-hosted along with Peer Helpers, IC, Rainbow Connections and MSA to empower students and faculty of all genders to learn defense tactics. By taking responsibility, HerSpace, the affinity group for female-identifying students, helps create an environment where all students can take measures to feel safer in the SPA community and in general.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, 11.2% of college age students experience sexual assault or rape through violence, physical force, or incapacitation.”

According to Not Me!, one in seven kids faces sexual abuse or assault. Clearly, self-defense and sexual assault awareness becomes relevant a lot earlier than senior year. Though it’s good that seniors would be departing with important tools that will help them as they become more independent, if younger students are also learning self-defense, it gives them the opportunity to teach their peers to create an overall more knowledgeable student body. Besides, it’s not like sexual assault and rape aren’t issues in high school too. When the classes were part of senior retreat, they were required, but now, the voluntary nature creates a better environment for students who wanted to attend.

The choice to attend does mean that fewer people attended, and therefore fewer students learned the skills. Especially for seniors heading off into new chapters of their lives, this isn’t ideal because self-defense skills could be very useful. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, 11.2% of college age students experience sexual assault or rape through violence, physical force, or incapacitation.

Switching the self-defense class to make it available for all students proved to be an overall good decision as it allowed the students who really wanted to learn more, thrive. Although this means fewer students learned these vital skills, forcing them to attend the class might not be the most productive decision. And it’s important to keep in mind that this format is in its primary stages; in the next few years, it could catch wind, and more and more people could attend.

Correction: this story was updated to reflect all the student clubs who collaborated on the after school self-defense offering.