In addition to a women’s self-defense class that has been running since 2011, Emerson College Police Department now plans to hold a class for men on April 6 – 8. Both classes are run through a nationally certified program, R.A.D. Systems of Self-Defense.
Men who join this class will be taught basic self-defense principles and how to better manage confrontational or aggressive situations, according to ECPD Lieutenant Robert Bousquet, who will be instructing the course.
“This program not only touches on physical defense but also the decisions one makes when confronted,” said Bousquet. “It provides options.”
According to Deputy Chief Eric Schiazza, who instructs the women’s class, ECPD has encouraged male-identifying students and employees to express their interest in a course for men. He said this year, the department received positive feedback to the idea.
The classes are not gender-neutral, according to Schiazza. R.A.D. for Women teaches Rape Aggression Defense, while R.A.D. for Men teaches Resisting Aggression Defense. He said that instructors need different certifications to teach the two separate courses. Bousquet said that while the physical training in both classes is similar, the ideology behind each class is different.
“That’s why they’re not the same class, even though a lot of the concepts could mirror each other,” said Schiazza.
Schiazza said that the programs won’t be integrated in the future.
Melanie Matson, Emerson’s director of violence prevention and response, said men and women should have separate classes because they are targeted in different ways.
“Typically the crime experienced by men is committed by strangers, and interpersonal
violence that women experience is done by people who are known to them,” said Matson.
Naomi Kramer, a senior communication disorders major, said she took the R.A.D. for Women class three years ago. She said she learned basic street safety techniques, like avoiding texting while walking and using noisemakers, which attract attention, rather than mace, which attackers can grab. She said she also learned basic self-defense moves.
“I think that in Boston, in general, you can walk into risky situations and both men and women can be targeted,” said Kramer.
Bousquet said he recently received his certification for the male class after attending a three-day program in New Hampshire. He said he learned the material and the process for teaching it to participants.
“The class isn’t going to teach you to be a martial artist,” said Bousquet. “The class will give them basic guidelines they can utilize to protect themselves and maybe others.”
A major part of the male course is teaching participants whether to defend themselves or disengage when confronted with aggression, said Bousquet. He said that having this knowledge could give men the confidence to protect others, which aligns with the college’s campaign that encourages students to step in during certain social settings, called Emerson STANDS.
“We’ll be taking the guidelines and putting an Emersonian twist on it,” said Bousquet.
Matson said that while R.A.D. and Emerson STANDS have parallels, STANDS is more oriented toward ideas that people can use before violence occurs.
“Self-defense courses are rooted in risk reduction –– so after something happens,” said Matson. “Their underlying philosophies are quite a bit different.”
Matson said that her concern with R.A.D. classes is that it doesn’t address the roots of interpersonal violence, which go deeper than needing to protect oneself.
“We also need to encourage our community to be more proactive and to be thinking about how we keep our entire community safe,” she said.
While ECPD intends to offer the R.A.D. for Men course annually, it needs at least four people signed up to run the class, according to Bousquet. He said only one person is currently signed up, which students can do by emailing Bousquet.