Rape Aggression Defense offers empowerment
Female students have learned protection skills through R.A.D. course for thirteen years. | Jason Lin/THE CHIMES
Over a decade ago, Chief John Ojeisekhoba of Campus Safety began teaching a one-unit academic physical education course in Rape and Aggression Defense at the request of the university.
Since the first semester the course appeared on the Biola class schedule, it has been in severe high demand. While the course primarily focuses on hands-on ways to defend oneself in the event of an attack, the other portion remains conceptual.
“We essentially began by teaching in the dormitories, and then decided to go into partnership with the P.E. department. The P.E. department decided to do a test run with one class so we did one class as a one-unit academic course or credit and after that one semester the interest was significant,” Ojeisekhoba said.
Beyond learning skills in weaponless self defense, the class instructs only female students in situations they might encounter. However, according to Justin Shelby, Campus Safety’s public information office, said any group, such as RA’s, can request a special defense session with Campus Safety officers. Walking alone at night or on a date, women face real threats. The need for training and awareness must be taught, and R.A.D. quickly became that outlet for Campus Safety to instruct and educate on how to avoid placing oneself in those situations.
“We have had a lot of females come back and have given us feedback on how they are applying what they have learned in the class, and the skills and the awareness principles and strategies that have helped them keep themselves safe on a number of specific situations,” Ojeisekhoba said.
Mary Farrar, junior communications studies major, visited Campus Safety’s free R.A.D. event last Wednesday, April 27 in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Her primary reason for interest in the course revolved around her knowledge of the need for training women of the world to defend themselves.
“I heard about [the R.A.D. session] from chapel, they showed us the schedule,” Farrar said. “It appeals to me because I want to feel empowered as a woman to be able to feel safe and to be able to protect myself if need be.”
Ojeisekhoba stresses empowerment and awareness above all else during the course with jarring examples of what has happened on campus in the past. He often begins classes with videos and stories of how many “creeps” truly exist on or around campus.
Several online websites easily allow people to enter zip codes or addresses to heighten awareness of how many sexual predators are truly near. Ojeisekhoba has personally approached serial sexual predators located near his house, letting them know they are noticed and known. In the neighborhoods surrounding Biola there are eight sexual predators, from quarter of a mile to one mile away from Biola, including one on Biola Avenue.
Jessica McBirney, junior political science major, stressed her eagerness for taking a small lesson in R.A.D. for safety during her summer internship in Washington, D.C. Having attended the open session last week as well, McBirney recognizes the need for defense in foreign places and plans to learn as much as she can to protect herself.
“Because I’m going to be spending next semester in Washington, D.C., I felt like I should have some way to protect myself,” McBirney said. “Because I feel like I’m going to be walking around a lot, and my commute to where I’m going to be interning is a little far away and I don’t know if I’m going to be walking at night or anything.”
Higher confidence level
For Biola’s spring of 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Week, only a dozen students came to the free R.A.D. session, despite the offered P.E. class filling up quickly. In the class trained officers pretend to be attackers while women defend themselves, often using force potentially damaging to them regardless of the thick protective padding they wear. One officer even reported Farrar, a life-long ballet dancer, kicked him harder than he had ever been kicked before.
“The very first class you see females come in and most of them don’t know what the class really entails. They are quiet and a little shy. And come that final day, it’s like night and day,” Ojeisekhoba said. “They kick butt big time, and they feel extremely empowered and their confidence level goes straight through the roof.”