New self defense club kicks off

Tim Glass | The Daily Wildcat Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat Brian Williams, women's self defense instructor, demonstrates how to break a choke hold to Erin Clair, a sophmore and double major in pre-med physiology and anthropology. Williams has been teaching protective techniques to women for over 20 years.

While funding for women's safety programs on campus has been severely cut, one UA student is taking the issue into her own hands by forming the UA Women's Self Defense Club.

The club will be the first of its kind on campus, said pre-business sophomore Bridgette Larsen, the club's founder.


""There's no club like this on campus,"" she said. ""I think people will like it — it'll be fun.""

The classes will be held in the Student Recreation Center, but offer more than just a workout, Larsen said.

""I think that a lot of girls don't know how to protect themselves,"" she said. ""They wouldn't know what to do if someone attacked them, and if they join the club they can learn the different techniques, and I think they'll gain more confidence because they'll know what to do when someone surprises them and attacks them.""

Malia ‘Uhatafe, student director for ASUA's Women's Resource Center and a religious studies senior, said that there is a need for self defense classes on the UA campus.

""One of the biggest issues students face here on campus is safety,"" she said. ""Statistics show that young women between 18 and 25 are more likely to be targeted in terms of sexual assault. Having that service, self defense, is very important. It empowers women and it gives them knowledge, and it educates them on what to do when they're in a situation.""

‘Uhatafe said that the Women's Resource Center offered free self defense courses in the spring of 2009. The center also implemented Safe Walk in 2007, providing UA students and staff traveling alone at night with a free escorted walk.

Due to budget cuts, however, programs that promote women's safety have suffered the most, ‘Uhatafe said. The self defense program was cut completely, and Safe Walk was not offered in the fall of 2009 due to lack of funding.

The Women's Resource Center has continued, however, to offer students pepper spray and keychain flashlights. The center also hopes to offer free self defense classes later on this semester, ‘Uhatafe said.

To join the Women's Self Defense Club, students and faculty must pay a $20 per semester membership fee and $60 per month for the classes.

Larsen and class instructor Brian Williams will be at the Rec Center on Jan. 13 and 14 from 4 - 6 p.m. to answer questions, give out schedules for upcoming classes and provide demonstrations of self defense techniques.

Sergeant Juan Alvarez, University of Arizona Police Department public information officer, said that self defense classes are important for a campus where sexual assault is present.

""I think that anything a person can take to be more aware of their risks so that they are continually thinking about how to stay safe is a good thing,"" Alvarez said. ""Commonly … these types of defense classes also comes with information on how to avoid being in certain situations with opportunities where people can commit crimes against you. A lot of the time it's just being aware, and if someone chooses to take a class that gives them the confidence to be aware and take steps to prevent being victimized … I think that's a good thing.""

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