The UTD Police Department has resumed R.A.D., a free self-defense class, for women and men this semester, reviving the program two years after its pandemic shutdown.
R.A.D. — Rape Aggression Defense for women and Resisting Against Defense for men — is an ongoing three-day program open to students, staff and the general public. This semester, the program for women will be held from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3, Feb. 14 to Feb 16, March 20 to March 22 and April 6 to April 8. The sessions will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the UTD police station for the first day and at Rec Center West on the other two days. According to R.A.D.’s training coordinator and instructor Sgt. Somer Fernandez, the women’s program is hands-on and teaches participants how to throw a punch, kick and get out of a chokehold. The men’s program teaches participants how to avoid physical confrontation.
“Most of the students that we teach have never thrown a punch in their life, so we pretty much teach the basics,” Fernandez said. “Besides the hands-on stuff, we also teach you to be aware of your surroundings. [For instance,] when you’re walking to your car, when you’re leaving your apartment … if anything looks any different, make sure to leave a light on if you know you’re going to come back after dark. We teach more than just the hands-on portion of it.”
While the class names are divided by sex, participants are free to register and attend either class regardless of their assigned sex and gender identity.
“We don’t create the classes ourselves… [so] it’s not titled by us,” Fernandez said. “That’s how [the R.A.D. program] titled it: R.A.D. for women and R.A.D. for men. However, whatever you want to register for, that’s the class you can go to. You register for whatever class you feel comfortable with.”
Fernandez said she hopes to hold the women’s class at least once a month and the men’s class at least once every semester, as there is a large difference in demand for the classes.
“[In] the women’s class, we get a lot of participants. In the men’s class, we don’t get as many,” Fernandez said. “I maybe had about 80 emails from men and the rest are from women, so 500 something emails are from women. With us, we do this outside of work. This is not our free time or our personal time, so that’s why whenever we do registration and send it out, we ask that if you’re going to cancel, please let us know.”
Each class is capped at 20 participants and has at least two instructors so students can demonstrate the moves with the instructors and fight three different scenarios with a UTD PD staff member in protective gear. In addition, the program requires at least six participants to show up in order to hold a session, which can often be a challenge according to Fernandez.
“It is [a concern] because it takes a lot of time and … that’s a lot of work for me to do for no one to show up,” Fernandez said. “In order for us to keep our license to teach R.A.D., we have to teach so many classes a year. We get it, sometimes you forget or things come up with school, but that’s what we ask. If you’re going to cancel, just let us know, that way we can get someone else because we do have a waitlist.”