By Bria Isaacson, News Editor
Asbury University’s Issues Awareness Committee (IAC) and Student Governance Association (SGA) offered self-defense classes on Oct. 26-27 and Nov. 9-10. This was the second year of free self-defense classes.
This year, the women’s classes were almost completely full for both days. The men’s classes, new this year, had about thirty men who signed up or were interested, according to senior Ashley Dickerson, IAC co-chair.
Director of Campus Safety and Security David Hay said that it is important to offer classes and for people to attend even though Asbury is a safe campus.
“Sexual assault rates are rising across the country,” Hay said, “and [these classes] offer empowerment in a basic skill set…. Unfortunately, students don’t stay here [at Asbury] long. Most travel internationally, and the rest of the world isn’t like Asbury…. We are communicating how to stay safe not only at Asbury but when students leave too.”
Because of this concern for students once they leave campus, Hay teaches students to be aware of their surroundings and to use their brains to be situationally aware. He also teaches simple close contact self-defense moves, such as elbow strikes and knee strikes. These are the most effective techniques in stressful situations, according to Hay.
Freshman Julie Berry, who is a part of IAC said that she was excited to attend the class.
“I was excited to come and see how all our planning came together,” she said. “I also believe that self-defense is a crucial skill in the modern world. I feel relatively safe on campus, but knowing what to do should the unthinkable happen gives an extra sense of comfort.”
For the new classes for men, Hay teaches basic self-defense, as well as bystander intervention and a sense of community.
We are communicating how to stay safe not only at Asbury but when students leave too.
“The way that sexual assault prevention has evolved is that it’s now a community effort,” he said. “Sometimes people may be in a situation and need assistance. We give [the men in the classes] options to talk about and ways to insert themselves, distractions, to provide assistance to someone else.”
Freshman Seth Kinyua was also excited to attend a class and learn about spatial awareness and avoiding conflict.
“I was excited to attend it because I think self-defense is a necessary skill in the world we live in,” he said. “As my friend Bailey Lane once said, ‘You could get attacked in a dark alley some time and, let’s face it, you’re not Batman.’”
More classes will be offered in March, according to Hay. There will be introduction level classes, as well as an advanced option offered for those who already taken the introduction class.
“David [Hay] does a fabulous job of making crucial information attainable in a very short amount of time,” Dickerson said. “Both the women and men who participate in these seminars are equipped with tools and techniques they can carry with them throughout their lives.”
Hay hopes that the advanced class will include an overview of the basic techniques and then more contact at an increased speed, including contact with pads and a practice dummy.
Hay is also looking into beginning a self-defense club that would meet a few times a month to practice and learn new techniques.