UCSB Police Department Holds Series of Classes as Part of Rape Aggression Defense Program

UCSB Police Department’s Rape Aggression Defense program began again this quarter, with its first series of classes beginning yesterday and continuing through January 21.

Also known as R.A.D., the free program takes place every six to eight weeks to teach female UCSB students how to fight against sexual assault. The classes host 10 to 12 students and are comprised of four three-hour sessions, during which women learn self-defense moves and techniques that will help them escape dangerous situations. Students who complete the program receive lifetime access to other R.A.D. classes throughout U.S. and Canada.

UC Police Officer Dawn Arviso, the current coordinator for R.A.D., said the nationwide program is recognized as one of the top training programs for self-defense.

“The main goal is to teach women viable options to help themselves stay safe,” Arviso said. “Our biggest goal is to teach them how to get away from the threat. If you’re stuck in a predicament and have no other option except to protect yourself, the R.A.D. program teaches you some blocks, strikes and kicks and to use your voice to make yourself heard in a situation where others may come to your aid.”

According to Arviso, R.A.D. classes generally cost money, but in this case, the department offers the lessons for free in order to ensure all UCSB students have access to them. Arviso said the department officers are very supportive of providing self-defense help to the female population on campus.

“Our administration is very pro- ‘reaching out to the community,’” Arviso said. “Chief Olson and Chief Farley feel that the R.A.D. program is a great tool that we can offer to our female students at this time.”

Arviso said the R.A.D. program has been well received by students and as of now, the waitlist for the remaining training sessions being held this school year is already filled. She also said some students from previous class series have put their training into practice, with one student successfully defending herself from sexual assault.

“He started groping her, and she immediately resorted to her training, and she said, ‘It was just amazing to me that in a time of need, I did not freeze,’” Arviso said. “She said it was largely in part to doing the scenarios she learned at the end of training. It’s the success stories that make us very excited.”

According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, while I.V. makes up roughly seven percent of the county’s population, 25 percent of the crime within Santa Barbara County happens in I.V., which only covers about one square mile. These crimes include sexual assault, stabbings, robbery and burglary.

In light of these statistics, Take Back the Night Co-chair, second-year feminist studies and English double major Kelty Kauffman said she appreciates the accessibility of the R.A.D. training.

“Any type of program that teaches people how to escape or fight back in life-threatening situations is definitely a good thing,” Kauffman said. “I think that it’s really important that people be able to have free programs like R.A.D.”

Second-year anthropology major Marisa Gonzalez said walking in I.V. makes her feel concerned for her safety and that participating in the R.A.D. program would give her a better sense of security. Gonzalez said self-defense techniques are still unknown to many women, but the usefulness of these tips can aid them if they face potentially dangerous incidents in I.V. in the future.

“You are always hearing stories about people being assaulted and robbed … You never know what can happen,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think that most people really know how to react and just hope it doesn’t happen to them. I like to be prepared.”

Additionally, Kauffman said the classes can be beneficial for previous victims of sexual assault by helping them strengthen their knowledge in self-protection.

“The thing about programs like this is that they are a really good resource to have, especially in helping survivors of sexual violence maybe feel safer knowing that they have ways to defend themselves,” Kauffman said.

But while helping with these safety issues, the program does not necessarily address the problem of how and why sexual assault occurs in I.V. in the first place.

“While these programs are really helpful, if unfortunately someone really falls into that situation, it does not help in combating the problem itself,” Kauffman said. “It does help them if they are in a dangerous situation, but it doesn’t actually attack the source of the problem, which is that in our culture, rape is something that is used as a hate crime that enforces power structures.”

In discussing the details behind these community safety issues, Kauffman said there should also be educational courses on “rape culture,” with these classes being offered to both the campus’ male and female populations.

“We could use a program that would teach all students — with a stronger focus on men — what rape culture is and how to obtain consent and what consent means,” Kauffman said. “Especially in the party culture of I.V., the idea of consent is blurred with alcohol and drugs. If we were to have workshops, it would need to extend beyond the ideas that get thrown at us in Gaucho F.Y.I. about what consent is and how to avoid being a part of the problem.”


A version of this story appeared on page 3 of Wednesday, January 15, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.