Imagine walking home from the library late at night. Now, imagine doing that as a female on a college campus. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, female college students ages 18-24 are three times more likely than women in the general population to experience sexual violence or some type of other assault.
ULM Police Department did not want lady Warhawks to be a part of that statistic. Thursday at the Bayou Pointe Event Center, ULM PD brought in the Equalizer Women’s Self-Defense Program; a class that aims to give women important information concerning violence against women and how to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations. This program also gives women the tools they need to survive and escape physically violent situations.
“This has been a program the students and faculty have been asking for every semester,” said Mark Johnson, assistant director of the university police department. He said it was his duty to meet the demands of the students on-campus and with help from the executive council of the university and the vice president of student affairs, they were able to secure funds to put together the three-week program. This four class, law-enforcement based program teaches women defensive tactics that officers use when they defend themselves. At the end of the course, women who successfully complete the program get a certificate of completion that thanks them for their participation.
On the inaugural night of the class, over 55 females attended the class. One participant, Christine Foto, felt this class was needed, because you never know what’s going to happen when you’re all alone.
“It’s good to know that if anything ever happened, you would have some knowledge and skills to fight back,” Foto said.
The third-year pharmacy student said that if any other ladies are available for the other classes, they should stop by and participate.
“I’m going into law enforcement after graduation, so this class gave me a head start on defensive tactics for my future,” said Erin Hodge, a junior criminal justice major.
Hodge, another participant of the Equalizer program, believes that every female should take advantage of this free opportunity to learn self-defense tactics.
“Every female needs to know how to properly protect herself in any situation,” Hodge said. She says she definitely feels safer after one attendance of the program.
ULM PD intends to hold the program once every semester. They understand several students and faculty members are busy with midterms and other school-related events, so they will try to plan the event with these factors in mind in the future. Officer Johnson said if this program stays successful, they may increase the program’s classes by holding more on the weekends throughout the semester. They may even open up the program to the Monroe community.
Officer Johnson wants to let the campus community know that he and his department “are extremely proud of this campus.” The police department prides itself on being a relatively safe campus, and they work hard to keep it that way. But, they know that bad guys exist and will continue to do bad things to good people. The message they want ULM to know is that they will continue to do everything they can to protect the students and faculty on-campus.
In any event of emergency, the number to contact the ULM police department is 318-342-5350.