Commentary: Syracuse University should kick self-defense up a notch in 2019

Commentary: Syracuse University should kick self-defense up a notch in 2019

In the age of #MeToo, Syracuse University must expand its self-defense programs beyond just one class.
Published: December 19, 2018
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In the age of #MeToo, learning self-defense should be a priority for many people. Although Syracuse University has an enrollment of 22,484 students, there is only one class geared specifically towards self-defense. The class has an enrollment capacity of 16 students, which means that only 0.07 percent of Syracuse’s student population has access to a self-defense class. By comparison, there are 13 yoga classes with a total and combined class capacity of 440 students.

Self-defense is one of the only proven ways to prevent an assault. A 2014 study found that college women who took a self-defense class were half as likely to be assaulted in the year after the class, compared to women who did not take it.

Phil Benedict, the class instructor and coach of the SU boxing team, is fighting for more self-defense classes on campus. This upcoming spring, the enrollment capacity for the class is going up from 16 to 25 students.

SU currently has special programs such as Rape Prevention Education (RPE) and Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.). Before moving to campus, incoming freshmen go through RPE. However, studies show that RPE does nothing to change rape culture.

R.A.D. is an optional self-defense class led by Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers that is open to students who can sign up through the DPS website. Despite the opportunity, no R.A.D. classes were held this fall, according to DPS Chief Bobby Maldonado.

Maldonado believes the lack of R.A.D. enrollment is related to visibility. DPS has Facebook and Twitter accounts, and they post regularly about the resources they offer, but students are not seeing or acting on DPS’ social posts.

Both R.A.D. and the “Self Defense for Women” classes are just that — for women. However, men, transgender people and gender-non conforming people are also victims of sexual violence.

About one in three women and nearly one in six men experience sexual violence in the United States, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, or NISVS. Furthermore, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47 percent of transgender people experience sexual violence.

Benedict hopes to see a greater emphasis on self-defense amongst the student body. For those among SU’s 22,000 student population unable to take  “Self-Defense for Women” class during an upcoming semester, here are a few easy self-defense moves demonstrated by members of SU’s boxing team.

Members of the SU boxing team, Skye Hart and George "Kilo" Michopolous, teach three easy self-defense moves.