Group fitness classes begin self defense unit


Safi Qadir

Harini Loganathan, senior, practiced her defensive stance against Jenni Stavreva, senior, her attacker for the simulation.

On Monday, April 1, the students in Group Fitness classes started actively learning self-defense. Over the next few weeks, students will learn physical resistance strategies through scenarios and discussion of potential physical situations.

Before spring break, instructors introduced students to the unit through a lecture and discussion around sexual assault, consent laws, and positive relationships.

Students watched a documentary, “Audrie & Daisy,” that was about two high school girls on opposite sides of the country with very similar stories of sexual assault and suffered from similar effects. The girls were assaulted when they were unconscious at a high school party.

The documentary explored the effects of sexual assault on the two girls and their families, as both were harassed online and shamed. The two girls attempted suicide, and one died.

“I knew problems like this existed but I had never known the extent to which they terrorized victims,” said Mackenzie Turnbull, junior and student in Group Fitness. “I think it’s important that this film is shown everywhere and to everyone because its message is critical for people to understand especially with college looming so closely.”

Safi Qadir
Senior Jenni Stavreva practiced an elbow jab against her simulation attacker.

The self-defense unit was first introduced in the late 1990s when a few Aerobics teachers taught the basic physical skills of self-defense to their students. However, in the past five years, teachers wanted to introduce a more detailed curriculum of self-defense which would address sexual assault, laws of consent, and risk reduction.

Three years ago, four of the teachers in the Physical Education Department found a nationally certified program named R.A.D. that fit the criteria of the curriculum they were looking for. R.A.D. stands for Rape Aggression Defense and is a program of realistic, self-defense techniques. After training and gaining certification from R.A.D., the four teachers introduced the new curriculum to their students.

Physical Education Department Chair, Ms. Janelle Marconi, wants students to have an increased knowledge concerning sexual assault and a true understanding of the consent laws.

“I want to have students to feel empowered to speak up for themselves or others and have techniques of physical resistance,” Marconi said.

To read more about the curriculum of self-defense, see the editorial in the Devil Advocate’s March print edition.