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'Oasis' offers self-defense classes for UA women


By Lisa Rich
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 15, 2004
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Women can fight helpless against predators of rape and assault by empowering themselves in a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program at Campus Health Services.

Participants in basic self-defense classes will finish training this Sunday at the Campus Health Highland Commons building on East Lowell Street. Advanced self-defense will begin Oct. 30 for women who have completed the basic program.

Sponsored by the UA OASIS center, RAD is a comprehensive course offering realistic self-defense techniques suitable for women above the age of 14, said Tina Tarin, OASIS violence prevention specialist.

The UA RAD program is taught with the intentions of educating and heighting women's awareness about sexual assault and techniques they could use in potentially harmful situations, Tarin said.

"One of the first things we teach is making eye contact with strangers and using your voice in threatening situations," Tarin said. "Being assertive and aware of your surroundings is one way of reducing assault."

Each 16-hour program is offered for $40 and is broken down into four courses held on two Saturdays and Sundays.

During the four-hour sessions, participants focus on different levels of defense including awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, and basic hands-on defense training, Tarin said.

Funding for the RAD program was provided by proceeds from the 2003-2004 student production of "The Vagina Monologues," which raised approximately $7,000 for equipment and instructor certification.

Tarin said with last year's proceeds, RAD was able to add two more classes to this year's schedule.

pullquote
They go from not feeling comfortable yelling, to whacking the hell out of me.

- Chad Sniffen, public health research technician

pullquote

The key chain defense class and aerosol defense class will be offered in December, teaching basic self-defense with a standard key chain or pepper spray container, in an eight-hour program for $20.

When participants finish a course, they will be provided with a paper stating their completion.

This paper guarantees their right to practice their skills at any time in other RAD programs across the nation, free of charge.

Tarin said RAD started at the UA last fall, with help from Chad Sniffen, public health research technician and graduate.

Sniffen participated in a RAD program at the University of California, Davis campus and wanted to bring the program here because he felt it was something UA students and faculty would want and need.

"Self-defense programs can be taught in a lot of ways, but they aren't always great in terms of useful information on sexual assault," Sniffen said. "The RAD program is very empowering because it focuses on prevention education and active participation."

On the last day of class, padded simulation attack scenarios will be offered for women to apply their new skills.

Both participants and a certified instructor will dress in padded suits and role-play possible attack scenarios.

Six RAD - certified instructors teach the program, including Tarin and Sniffen.

The instructors are volunteers, and they receive no compensation for their time, Tarin said.

Sniffen and Tarin both said they considered seeing the transition of women's confidence, from day one to the last class, as compensation for their time and effort.

"After 16 hours (of training), I could see the women felt more empowered," Sniffen said. "I can actually see that I'm doing something positive and that it will make a difference in their lives ... They go from not feeling comfortable yelling, to whacking the hell out of me."

Tarin said the program is offered only to women to provide a comfortable atmosphere where they can find their voice and assurance in a common group.

Basic self-defense classes will resume in January, accepting no more than 15 women per class, Tarin said.

Interested students can register at the Triage Reception Desk in the Campus Health Services building. Participants under the age of 18 must have a completed parental consent form.

For additional information, log on to http://oasis.web.arizona.edu/oasisselfdefense.html or call the OASIS center at 626-2051.



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