Introducing Donna Grey, Captain Jeffrey Chapman, and Office Jonathan Goodson.
As students settle into another school year, the stress of constantly hitting the books can leave them wanting to, well, hit the books. In Temple’s two-credit female self-defense course, Personal Defense for Women and Rape Aggression Defense, throwing a couple punches could actually result in an “A” and empower female students in the face of crime. The class, which is part of a national effort on self-defense awareness, covers automobile, home, relationship, Internet, drug and alcohol safety, while teaching women how to avoid dangerous situations. In light of the recent shooting of student Robert Eells, The Temple News chatted with course instructors Temple Police Captain Jeffrey Chapman, Officer Jonathan Woodson and Campus Safety Coordinator Donna Gray to find what the best responses are for those sticky scenarios and the safety tip every female student should have in her arsenal.
The Temple News: What kind of tips do you give women in regards to being proactive about safety?
Chapman: The first thing is to always be aware of your surroundings, no matter where you are, no matter what comfort zone you think you’re in–always be aware of your surroundings. And take responsibility for your own safety. Don’t leave it in someone else’s hands.
TTN: For those who are timid, how do you go about turning them into lean mean self-defense machines?
Woodson: It starts with picking your head up and paying attention to your surroundings and once they learn to walk assertively and pay attention to the surroundings that opens up a lot of opportunities.
Gray: Women are conditioned to be timid. We could just as easily be conditioned to be aggressive. So, really what we’re doing in the class is helping people tap into their natural power.
TTN: With the recent shooting of a student, students must be more alert than ever. How would you recommend someone react in a situation like that?
Gray: That’s a really difficult thing to respond to because first of all, if somebody has a weapon you really need to evaluate, “How safe am I? How confident am I?” and “What’s the likelihood that I am going to get hurt?” One of the things that we teach in terms of RAD is that there are situations where you need to comply with what a person is directing you to do and wait for that opportunity to escape or to be safe.
Chapman: Complying means that while you’re complying you’re also looking at that person. You’re getting all the information you can about this person so that when you are able to make the call you have as much as you can tell.
TTN: What is the overall attitude that you want to leave women with when they complete the course?
Chapman: There are four elements to empowerment for a woman: education, making your own decisions, depending on self and not on others and realizing your own strength. So, that’s part of building that timid woman into a confident woman.
Gray: Part of what you get when you’re empowered is that idea to trust your instincts because most women are in a whole variety of situations and they have an awkwardness and they don’t believe that they should react.
TTN: What is the most valuable physical defense move for a female at Temple to know?
Chapman: The most valuable part of this class is that women learn their personal weapons and they learn attackers’ vulnerable locations so they’re not wasting energy punching someone in their chest. And they learn how to protect their vulnerable locations. But, that can’t be more valuable than the risk reduction skills. Every component of this class is necessary to be successful.
TTN: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Woodson: Just that we wish every student here, as a female, would go through this class. I wish we could not let a student out of here without taking this class. We even tell them in the beginning of the class that this is one of the best classes because where else can you go and punch your professor?
Marisa Steinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.