By ALEXIS GARCIA
If you are walking on Manhattanville College’s campus and you hear someone mentioning RAD, chances are they are a skater, but more than likely they are talking about the Rape Aggression Defense Program that is being implemented for the spring semester. Spanning for 10 weeks, this course is being offered for female students, faculty, and staff.
For each week in the program, the instructor will be teaching a variety of defense techniques, along with giving discussions about alcohol consumption, self-awareness, rape, and other topics. Even though it is a course, the RAD program will not be run like a regular class; there is no lecture.
Manhattanville College Dean of Students Sharlise Smith-Rodriguez, who attended a self-defense workshop last semester led by her former RAD instructor, Cindy Markus-Jones, initiated the RAD at Manhattanville College for the spring semester. Smith-Rodriguez participated in the RAD program while she attended SUNY Purchase in the 1990s.
According to Smith-Rodriguez, the RAD program will be largely beneficial the Manhattanville College community as it was for her.
“I was a shy girl in college,” said Smith-Rodriguez. “But eventually, it was a great feeling to gain confidence and know that if a 300-pound man approached me, I could finally speak up for myself.”
Sexual misconduct of any kind is a continual concern, especially on college campuses. It is not just limited to rape, but also verbal abuse and other situations that would be uncomfortable and potentially threatening.
A survey of the campus’s knowledge of sexual assault had been administered through email to the student body by Smith-Rodriguez last semester. Students submitted answers pertaining to sexual assault based on their perspectives and experiences, whether it was their own or knowledge of someone else’s.
“Alcohol had been indicated as one of the frequent factors in sexual misconduct among the students,” said Assistant to the Dean, Annette Scapperotti.
Throughout 2012 to 2014, there have been 5 cases of rape on campus. Each year, Manhattanville College publishes the “Department of Campus Safety Annual Security Report” detailing necessary information to help keep the community safe. Different types of sexual misconduct are outlined in this report as well as crime statistics.
The course, that began on February 18th, is held on Thursdays from 7:00-8:30 PM in the East Room of Benzinger Hall.
Markus-Jones and Smith-Rodriguez said that a lot of young women are oblivious to intricacies of sexual abuse and that participating in the RAD program would not only help them become more aware, but also prompt them to not feel threatened in uncomfortable situations.
“It’s not going to be boring,” said Smith-Rodriguez. “It’s meant to be very interactive. You’re learning how to protect yourself and [Markus-Jones] is going to be in your face and get you on your feet.”