COC held self-defense classes to help protect females against sexual assault on campus, but according to students, it did not reach its full potential.
According to The Journal of American College Health, one in five undergraduate females will have faced a form of sexual assault on campus. This means on the COC campus with 2,914 female students attending full time, around 582 of them would have experienced sexual assault before graduating.
Those numbers were too high for California to not react. The California Community College Chancellor, Brice W. Harris, encouraged campuses across the state to implement the Boxer-Davis SOS Campus Act.
This act provides an on-campus advocate to sexually assaulted victims. These advocates provide: emergency medical care, instructions on how to report to law enforcement, exams to collect evidence counseling and information on legal rights.
One of the first community colleges to take action was COC by holding three classes, once a week, from Nov 6 – 20 in the East Gym.
This class, taught by an on-campus security woman, was created in order to provide students with information on the procedure to follow during and after being sexually assaulted. Two fellow instructors were a former member of the SWAT team and another being a retired LAPD officer.
The class not only taught self-defense, but also educated the students on the aftermath, such as STD testing and collecting evidence. It offered useful tips to females, for example, items to keep in the car, steps to follow when being stalked and how to use pepper spray. On the last day, the instructors test the students by having two of the officers attack them individually in order to create a real life situation. They then need to fight them off using the techniques they learned.
The class was free and open to anyone, whether a previously assaulted victim or simply a curious student. Women of different ages, mothers, daughters and teenagers attended these classes. However, video recording of their sessions were not allowed in order to protect the information from assaulters on campus.
“I went to security, to report a guy that assaulted me,” said Laura Pichler, a student at COC, “and while I was there the officers told me about the self-defense course and thought it’d be a good idea for me to take it.”
COC’s officers did assist Pichler after she reported. The assaulter, a fellow student, is no longer allowed to approach her in anyway. If he does, he will be permanently kicked off of the campus.
Therefore, Pichler believes the campus does ensure the safety of students even though they do not inform you immediately after handling a situation. She was informed an update on her assaulter after she went back to the office and asked about it.
The class gives a sense of community to victims and others feeling unsafe due to the threat of sexual assault.
They even have a nickname called “The Girlfriend’s Club” and had matching T-shirts made. On the COC website one can find the guidelines in order to be part of the club. Some of these rules include: “We promise to leave together at the end of the night” and “We watch each other’s drinks.”
However, as helpful as this might sound, the classes still have room for improvement, according to the students.
When asked if the class helped ensure safety, Pichler replied, “Honestly, no. I feel like I already knew the stuff they told me… it might help you, but I think once you’re in that situation you’re just scared and people don’t really think clearly when they’re scared.”
Susan Gonzalez, another student taking the self-defense classes, felt she could learn more from sessions on campus safety.
Overall, COC is taking a positive step to make the campus a safer place. Over the years, the class could go more in depth on the procedures and precautions to ensure the safety of all students in the long term, according to members. Interested students feel free to register for next semester at: http://www.canyons.edu/Offices/CampusSafety/Pages/selfDefenseWorkshops.aspx