More than 60 women on the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus have learned how to protect themselves from assault and attempted rape, according to UAFS Chief of Police Craig A. Nance.
Nance said the women, ages 18 to 65, have participated in Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes conducted by the UAFS Police Department.
“We chose the RAD System curriculum because it’s taught at over 400 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada,” Nance said. “It’s the only self-defense program ever to be endorsed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. It’s the country’s largest and fastest growing self-defense program for women and children.”
Nance said he has always believed that women should be empowered so that they can be the ones who make the decision whether or not they are going to fight an attacker, and this course can help make that possible.
Up until now, RAD classes were only available to UAFS students and employees. Now, they will be offered through the Center for Lifelong Learning. Classes are limited to 15 female participants who must be 16 years or older. CLL sessions are 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from March 26 - April 4. A $45 fee includes a free lifetime return and practice policy for RAD graduates.
Courses are taught by nationally certified RAD instructors and provide each student with a workbook/manual outlining the entire program for reference and continuous personal growth. UAFS students, faculty and staff can take the course for free.
Kay McPhail of Arkoma, Okla., an administrative specialist in UAFS Human Resources, said, as an employee, she’s glad she took the course.
“If given the opportunity, I would encourage every woman to take the RAD class,” McPhail said. “Although our campus is a safe environment, this class gave me the skills, knowledge and confidence I need to defend myself in any situation and taught me how to be aware of my surroundings.”
Maggie Davis of Greenwood and Amanda Page of Fort Smith are UAFS students who belong to SkillsUSA, an organization that helps students build character and self-confidence through educational experiences in leadership, teamwork, and citizenship. Through this program they were able to take RAD training for free.
Davis is a freshman nursing student and a pharmacy technician at the Walmart in Greenwood. Since she’s 4 feet 10 inches tall, she thought the RAD course would be beneficial for her.
“This was not at all what I thought it was going to be,” Davis said. “I was expecting a classroom course. But this was very interactive -- way more than I thought it was going to be. A police officer took the part of the ‘aggressor,’ and the students learned how to deal with many different forms of assault during the weekly three-hour sessions.”
Davis said the course was not about ”building confidence,” but more about learning about awareness, preparedness and controlling any situation she might find herself in.
“I was foolishly brave before I took this course,” she said. “Now I’m more conscious of my surroundings and the situations around me.”
The first part of safety is avoiding dangerous situations, Davis said.
“Now I know that when I walk my dog I should cross the street when I see someone loitering along the path I’m on,” she said. “Yes, I’m more confident. But that doesn’t mean I take risks. It means I avoid risky situations.”
Davis said she thinks every woman should take this course.
“It’s not just about rape and assaults. It’s about controlling situations at parties, dances, and wherever I go.”
Davis said the instructors show measured responses that are appropriate for specific predicaments. That helps her to avoid overreacting to someone’s advances, yet it keeps her in control of almost any situation she finds herself in.
Page is a senior nursing student who served a hitch in the Air Force before returning to school.
“This is a real important course because there are lots of girls coming here from small towns or very nice families who are very protected and naive when they come to a larger city,” Page said. “They go running in strange neighborhoods, use ATMs at night and drive through bad neighborhoods. This is about the dangers you face all over town.”
Page said a friend of hers in SkillsUSA asked her to take the class with her and she thought it would be a lot of fun, but it turned out that she learned a lot, too.
Page said she thought hand-to-hand combat in Air Force basic training would take care of her in just about any situation. But it never taught her anything about waking up in the middle of the night to find somebody trying to assault her. She said this course taught her how to neutralize the aggressor and get out of the room.
“I was a sexual assault victim advocate in the Air Force,” Page said. “What I heard from sexual assault survivors so many times was, ‘I was frozen. I didn’t know what to do.’ Well, this class teaches you what to do.”
The UAFS Police Department is the law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction on all university-owned, controlled or leased properties. All UAFS police officers are trained law enforcement professionals and certified by the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. UPD is located in the 51st St. Annex at 425 North 51st St. For information on the RAD program itself, contact Chief Nance at Craig.Nance@UAFS.edu. For more information on upcoming RAD classes offered through the Center for Lifelong Learning, call 479-788-7220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.