Safety is important at Florida Gulf Coast University. According to the college review site niche.com, FGCU received an “A” in Health and Safety for features including nightly police escorts, code blue emergency poles and a silent witness hotline.
The Rape Aggression Defense class hosted by the University Police Department is another way to keep students safe.
The class is led by Sgt. Heidi Blake and Lt. Anthony Rispoli of UPD. However, RAD itself was not created by UPD or the school, but is actually a part of the RAD Systems of Self-Defense program founded by Lawrence Nadeau, a former Marine.
According to Nadeau’s website, the goal of RAD is “to develop and enhance the options of self-defense, so they become viable considerations to the woman who is attacked.” This mission statement clearly defines the goal of RAD, but what do the options of self-defense look like?
“We really like to focus on the educational aspect of RAD,” said Rispoli, who fully believes in the mission of the program. “We want to start conversations about ‘What is risk?’ and ‘How can we avoid risky situations?’” Rispoli said. “RAD teaches women about awareness, recognition, reduction, and avoidance of these kinds of situations.”
Rape and sexual assault are serious problems on college campuses around the United States. More than 5 percent of women in college — about 300,000 women — experience rape or attempted rape annually, according to oneinfourusa.org, a nonprofit rape research group. That does not include other forms of sexual assault, such as groping and forced kissing. It also does not include women who do not report their rape.
“I think that because college students have so much new independence and freedom, some bad decisions are made,” Rispoli said. “All too often, women aren’t sure what to do in risky situations. RAD teaches them how to keep their options open.”
Rispoli wants to emphasize that RAD is not a martial arts class. Instead, it focuses on teaching women of different ages and fitness levels how to defend themselves in a variety of situations. According to Rispoli, “it’s completely free and open to all women.”
There is not yet a RAD class for males.
“We’re only certified to train women right now. Space is also an issue. But if we see more male interest in RAD, we might consider it,” Rispoli said.
Sheilla Robles, a senior living in West Lake Village, enjoyed her experience with RAD.
“It was very interesting,” Robles said. “The lessons are pretty simple and fit almost any situation. You go to three classes, and the first half is more about education, the second half is about actual techniques.”
Robles thinks that even students who are hesitant about going to the course should try it.“Do it. Even one class is really worthwhile.”
Students who would like to check out RAD for themselves can attend the classes from 6 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 13, 20, 27 in the Cohen Center room 214 Contact Sgt. Heidi Blake at [email protected] for more questions or to register.