defenseSeniors plan ahead with self-defense skills needed for college campuses

Zoey Whitmeyer ’10

The Center for Public Integrity Investigation found that one in every five women who attends college becomes a victim of rape or attempted rape by the time she graduates. For UA parent Kate Minor, this is an alarming statistic. Her daughter will attend college next year, and Minor believes that self-defense is a key skill for all young girls in order to keep safe.

“I really believe it is important for a young girl to know self-defense, especially before they go to college,” Minor said.

Self-defense classes have become popular for young women to learn how to fight back and protect themselves.

Senior Josey Feltes and her friends are one example of the ongoing trend. For Feltes, protecting herself next year on college campus is one less factor to worry about.

“I feel much more safe going to college far from home knowing that I am able to protect myself if needed,” Feltes said.

She and some of her friends have been attending a weekly Body Combat class at Lifestyle Family Fitness. The class combines self-defense disciplines like karate, boxing, Tai Chi and kickboxing. Feltes said she thinks self-defense is important, but she takes the class for the workout and fun with her friends as well.

“The class is an easy way to combine cardio and strength training,” Feltes said. “I’m in this class mainly for the workout…it’s a really fun way to stay in shape and it keeps things interesting. Plus, my friends that belong to Lifestyle love it too.”

Minor said she also prepared her daughter for college by attending self-defense classes.

“I signed my daughter up for a self-defense class at our country club because she is going to college next year,” Minor said. “She is going to be on her own so she needs to know how to stay safe.”

At Ohio State University, free self-defense classes are offered to the public through student services. UA graduate Aishwarya Jha, who now attends OSU, participated in one such self-defense class on campus.

“It is important to know how to defend yourself physically and stay alert,” Jha said. “The class teaches you both.”

One of the main focuses of the class is learning the importance of your environment in terms of safety.

“A great part of this class was learning to be aware of your surroundings. [You learn] how to walk and carry yourself, not to talk on your cell phone while walking, things like that,” Jha said. “By learning this stuff, we can avoid looking like a target and the need to physically ‘fight’.”

Although Jha said she feels safe on OSU’s campus, she is still careful.

“At the same time, I try to be careful and don’t walk by myself at night,” Jha said.

However, even walking with a friend is not the best solution, according to Minor.

“The buddy system is not a substitute for self-defense. You should always stick together and every girl should know self-defense where ever they are. I went to Denison [University], a very safe school, and one of my friends was attacked,” Minor said. “Things are going to happen [on any campus].”