MUPD offers self-defense class


Photo by Elena Fiegen

Students learned physical defenses during the self defense class.

Capt. Ruth Peterson and Crime Prevention Officer Andrew Huber from the Marquette University Police Department are teaching self-defense classes to students and staff three times this semester. The first class was held Monday and future classes will be March 26 and April 15 at 5 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Union.

Peterson said she taught classes for the last 11 years at Marquette, and she said the Marquette community will benefit from the classes.

“I think the class is important because it provides students, faculty and staff information to increase their awareness about safety,” Peterson said. “It provides them with skills they can use to protect themselves.”

Lt. Jill Weisensel, who has knowledge of self-defense techniques, said the self-defense class will teach defensive maneuvers to participants, but also provide tips on how to remain safe and aware.

Weisensel said the self-defense class covers university resources, such as the number of BlueLight phones and cameras as well as how and where to report crimes or suspicious activity. It also covers the LIMO services and general personal safety and awareness tips.

“The class then transitions into defensive maneuvers. We teach hand strikes, forearm strikes, knee strikes and a couple different kicks,” Weisensel said. “Depending on class questions and how much time we have remaining, we can also cover what to do if someone tries to choke you, or how to defend yourself if you end up on the ground.”

Huber emphasized teaching verbal skills. If someone is being followed or feels unsafe, he or she should yell to get the attention of others to prevent a situation from becoming physical.

Maggie Smith, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, said she looked forward to attending one of the classes to gain new skills.

“I want to participate in the class because I feel like being a girl can be dangerous in today’s world, which is the unfortunate truth,” Smith said. “It’s just a good thing to know how to defend yourself in case anything happens.”

Peterson said that males and females who attend the class are all taught the same skills, and the skills can be used by anyone, regardless of his or her size or strength.

For students to stay safe, Peterson, Weisensel and Huber all stressed being aware of one’s surroundings is the easiest and best safety tip.

“One of the biggest concerns both on and off campus for students is students being distracted because they are on their phones, either on a call or texting,” Peterson said. “When they are texting, they are only concentrating on their phone and not their surroundings. This makes them an easier target.”

Weisensel said that in order to be aware in your environment, you have to be able to take in environmental cues, and it is easy to be distracted by technology.

“If you have your hood up, with headphones in, while staring down at your phone, you have blocked your body’s ability to take in the environmental cues you need to assess your safety,” Weisensel said. “You can’t hear because of the headphones, you can’t see your peripheral because of the hood and your attention is focused on your phone. … The more distracted you are by your environment, the more vulnerable you are to it.”

Weisensel recommended attending the self-defense class because personal safety is a life skill, and it is under-taught and often taken for granted.

“Your number one safety resource is you, so you should … learn as much as you can to try and keep yourself safer in any environment because self-defense should be a last resort,” Weisensel said. “Learning to identify and avoid red flags and vulnerabilities should be the priority. Having the right mindset towards safety should come long before punches and kicks.”

Lauren Baylor, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences who attended one of the self defense classes, said she wanted to be safe in case something happened to her.

“There is a lot of violence in Milwaukee in general,” Baylor said. “I know my car has gotten broken into down here before. I just don’t want to be in a situation where I couldn’t defend myself.”