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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Formerly an HP offering, Rape Agression Defense (RAD) now free

RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) has been taught for credit since the early 2000s, but decline at NMU in student enrollment and ensuing budgetary cuts caused its move from the Health Promotion course offerings to a free, not-for-credit class by Public Safety and Police Services. The life-long experience and knowledge gained through the course encouraged Lt. Don Peterman to continue the class without the for-credit opportunity, but he said he worries the lack of credit will dissuade participation.

“When students aren’t going to get credit for it, they think ‘I don’t have time to take that class’, but I think it’s important to know that though it’s not for credit, it’s something you take with you for the rest of your life,” Peterman said. “If anything, it’s a confidence booster.”

Statistics currently show that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted with more than 90 percent of cases going unreported, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

As campus’ specialist in the crime prevention and community policing, Peterman started the RAD program at Northern in an attempt to do his part to prevent those crimes.

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“I asked myself, ‘What can I do as a police officer to help people that I would also enjoy doing and would have a good outcome?” Peterman said.

RAD teaches students about sexual assault through knowledge and physical technique. Instructors focus on awareness tips, lectures discussing Michigan sexual assault laws, date rape drugs and the importance of reporting cases as well as self-defense tactics. This is a good way for students to gain a skill set that equips them when they find themselves in difficult situations, Peterman said.

“Most females don’t fight, have never been in a fight and have never been trained to protect themselves,” Peterman said. “If you don’t have any skills and you don’t know what to do, you may not have that fight or flight response and you could freeze-up.”

Mary Jane Tremethick, the associate dean and director for the school of Health and Human Performance, confirmed that while RAD provided important education for students, the budget decline narrowed the course load to classes that could be taught by graduate assistants and coaches, but none were certified to teach RAD. Tremethick said she believes the new structure will provide flexibility and that students will be more content with its new format.

“I am pleased that it is being taught by Public Safety. This allows this very important content to continue to be taught on campus. When it was offered as an HP activity class, it needed to meet the activity minimums of two 50-minute sessions per week,” Tremethick said. “Now that it is being offered outside of an HP class, Public Safety will have much more flexibility in the way they teach this class.”

NMU graduate Shelby Conard took the class when she was still attending Northern and said it was both fun and informational, but moreover, the fact that it could save a life is what really sets it apart from other classes in the curriculum.

“Some girl some day could be attacked and remember just one move from this class that could give her the opportunity to get away to safety,” Conard said. “This is a great alternative to getting a CPL (concealed pistol license) or having to carry some other type of self defense device. I’m not against being armed, but your arms, legs, and brain are always attached and you won’t ever be without them in a situation.”

When RAD was taught for credit, it filled between six and eight classes with 20 students in each class every semester and ran for seven weeks, Peterman said. The new structure now offers only two classes, one on Monday nights and one on Tuesday nights, allowing a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 15. These classes will run for four weeks but classes are three hours long instead of 50 minutes.There will be a February session and a March session starting after spring break with extra classes added as needed.

Nine hours of in-class practice will be lost on the condensed timeline since only 12 hours are required for RAD, opposed to the 21 hours when offered for credit. This reduction doesn’t make the course any less important, it just leaves time for practice outside of class, Peterman said.

Conard was in her final semester of senior year when she decided to take the RAD class. Now an assistant athletic trainer at Millsaps College in Mississippi, Conard said the skills she learned in the class still come to her when she feels vulnerable.

“There have been a few times when I’ve been alone at night or even just moving down to Mississippi where I didn’t really know where I was going that I’ve thought back to the class and tried to plan out what I would do if I was approached or attacked,” Conard said.

Sexual assault statistics are rising, according to Peterman, but says that’s to be expected when you educate people and they understand the laws and that their experience was a crime. He said he hopes students leave not only with an understanding of how to get out of the situation, but a grasp on what the crime is and how to get help.

“If people don’t report it, we don’t know how bad it is. It also helps tell us who the perpetrators are. They can’t carry out the crimes if they’re off the streets,” Peterman said. “A lot of times, those that commit sexual assaults are serial rapists. They will continue if they’re not stopped.”

Peterman said he encourages students to come out and take advantage of the opportunity to assault a police officer and not be charged. Posters have been hung throughout campus. For additional information and enrollment, contact NMU Public Safety.

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