Should Augustana add a self-defense class in the curriculum?

Ce Ce Olvera

From the beginning of the school year, there have been lingering discussions from students about high crime rates near campus, ranging from assault allegations to attempted robbery to shootings.

When there are conversations being brought up about crimes or stories about students being harmed, it makes us think: What could be done to protect ourselves? Should the college need to implement more safety net measures or offer students self-defense classes?

Junior Jacqueline Isaacson said she recently had an incident where she had a gun pointed to her direction. She was driving at night and stopped at a stop sign on 44th and 14th Street, then noticed a man walking on the sidewalk.

Isaacson said she saw the man take out a gun and point it towards them. She tried to manage to stay calm and figure out a way out of the situation, and luckily, they were able to duck to get out of the target angle and step on the gas.

An incident that would leave many shaken up and sometimes hurt, thankfully Isaacson was able to drive away safely, wondering what could have happened if they would have come face-to-face? How would they protect themselves?

Walking around on campus, I’ve noticed that there are tons of students that carry around pepper spray on their keychains to make themselves feel safe if an unknown person were to approach them. There are also “self-defense” keychains that come with certain items that can be used for protection.

Customers can choose what goes on their keychain. There are several configurations including whistles, alarms, a flashlight, sharp and blunt objects sided for striking, a window breaker, pepper spray and so on.

While the keychains are extremely important safety nets, each item used will only go so far. The pepper spray can only reach a certain distance and has limited sprays in the can. The flashlight will eventually run out of batteries and the sharp objects may become dull.  

Another outlet that not only protects oneself but can work as a stress reliever is taking a form of martial arts such as judo, karate or kendo. Martial arts can build stamina and confidence and provide people with different forms to protect ourselves from a real threat.

Adding martial art classes as an elective for the HEPE requirement would bring in a large demographic of students who want to learn to take control of a situation if it had ever got this bad.

First-year Alicia Felker said she feels comfortable on campus but insecure when she is off campus. “I do feel unsafe leaving the boundaries of the campus as a female, especially alone. I do wish that there was a self defense class taught in order to provide knowledge on what to do in handling these situations.”

Mark Wroblewski, a senior at Augustana, realized the physical structure of being a “tall male” came with a sense of comfort. However, he said he would not hesitate in taking a self-defense class. A research from The Young Morning Theralo has proved that young men, aged 15 to 24, were most likely to be attacked by several strangers.

“If I had time, I would definitely have taken a self defense class. I’ve thought about taking one in my spare time,” Wroblewski said.

Self-defense brings not only confidence and self-awareness but also can protect someone in a terrible situation.