Community, Features

Self-defense classes promote safety skills on BU’s urban campus

Sinead Mulligan decided to learn self-defense after one of her friends jokingly threw her to the ground with a jujitsu move.

“I was like, ‘If this tiny girl can throw me to the ground, I should probably learn to protect myself,’” said Mulligan, a sophomore in the College of General Studies.

Boston University Police Department. BUPD began a Resisting Aggression with Defense (RAD) program to teach self-defense through martial arts to students. AMANDA CUCCINIELLO/DFP FILE

After that, she signed up for the Boston University Police Department’s Resisting Aggression with Defense, also known as Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD, class. RAD Basic Personal Defense System is a national program of certified self-defense classes which began in 1989.

BUPD holds free RAD self-defense classes throughout the academic school year for students, faculty and staff to teach them how to respond to physical aggression.

With BU’s Charles River and Medical Campuses extending into Fenway, Kenmore, Allston and South End neighborhoods, self-defense is one strategy for students to protect themselves on an urban campus.

In 2022, six instances of aggravated assault, nine instances of rape, eight burglaries and three instances of stalking were reported on BU’s Charles River Campus, according to the BU Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

Lian Wong, a graduate student in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has always wanted to learn self-defense.

“In undergrad, I always wanted to take advantage of [the program], but I just never did,” she said.

Wong has attended two RAD classes in the past two weeks, which she said has made her feel more comfortable attending school in an urban setting. The classes are a chance to practice self-defense techniques with certified instructors, something that online practice videos do not cover the same way, she said.

“As a woman, I feel like it’s dangerous walking by myself, especially at night,” Wong said, but walking alone is “unavoidable.”

The RAD classes are one piece of BUPD’s work to “promote the safety and security of the campus and surrounding communities,” according to the BUPD website.

RAD classes are not the only option for students concerned about safety on campus. The Scarlet SafeWalk allows students and employees to request a student to accompany them on their walks at the Charles River Campus from 9:00 p.m. to midnight every night of the week, according to the BUPD website.

Emergency call boxes are available across the BU campus. Students who feel unsafe can press a button and connect directly with BUPD for help.

“Even though BU does feel safe, you should always be on the lookout, always be self-aware,” said Angelie Darbouze, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Malia Montalvo, a sophomore in the College of General Studies, who lives on BU’s West Campus said she feels like she’s living more in a city than on a college campus.

“Especially as a woman, I respect anyone’s reasoning for wanting self-defense classes,” Montalvo said.

RAD self-defense classes are available no matter one’s gender or residence.

“I feel like [self-defense] is something that you need to have,” Darbouze said. “Not even as a woman, as a person, you should be able to defend yourself.”

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