Three times a week, students are given the opportunity to participate in self-defense classes hosted on campus by the University Police Department along with several student leaders.
Officer Jeff Kellum, who leads the classes, said that though UPD has offered self-defense courses for many years, revisions are routinely made in order for students to get the most out of each class and personally improve each week.
“The programs we taught in the past did not address the specific risks and needs of our campus community,” Kellum said. “Specifically, the other programs were abduction based and did not allow males to participate in classes.”
The new format of the class makes it more inclusive for all members of the community.
“No one should be denied access to our programs for any reason,” Kellum said. “We are currently working with Student Disability Services to ensure our instructor manual reflects inclusive strategies for students of all abilities.”
Responses to non-consensual contact are a part of the program that instructors are increasing focus on. Next week, Kellum will visit different sororities on campus to discuss how to react to non-consensual contact and to encourage everyone to attend the frequent self-defense classes.
The classes are generally held once on Monday at 3 p.m. in the Turner Center and twice on Tuesday in the Turner Center and at the Residential College.
Previous classes were abduction-based, something that Oxford does not see much of. UPD observed that there needed to be a change.
“It’s different,” Kellum said. “It’s a campus environment, so all the risks are different. We started looking into how we could address all of the campus’s specific needs.”
In order to enhance the self-defense classes, UPD has reached out to other departments and organizations on campus.
“We’re at that point now where we’re working with Title IX, the Violence Prevention Office and the Counseling Center to get the right common core messages presented when we’re teaching classes,” he said.
Christina Hagel started attending the classes last semester and now goes twice a week.
“It’s one of the things that I look forward to the most every week,” Hagel said. “I don’t exercise most of the time anyway, so it is a workout for someone who is not very active.”
Not only does Hagel use the classes for fitness purposes, but she also said that they have taught her a lot of useful skills concerning safety.
“Self-defense is a good thing to know because there are bad people in the world and the world can be dangerous,” Hagel said. “And college campuses, if you add alcohol to the mix, that’s when it gets even more dangerous.”
Hagel said that people considering going to a class should definitely try it.
“I love it, really, and I try to tell everyone to at least try it,” she said.