By R. Paul Dyck
For students hoping to make it home safe and sound, a new program is available through the University of Calgary.
Organized by Campus Security and Safewalk, the Safe and Sound program seeks to equip students with the skills necessary to defend themselves.
"It is another step that Campus Security and Safewalk are taking to give students the steps necessary to prevent an attack," said Safewalk Coordinator Lisha Hassanali. "These skills can help prevent you from becoming a victim."
Students who register for Safe and Sound participate in a class led by a police officer, and are taught how to react in volatile situations.
"Safe and Sound offers personal safety classes where they talk about drawing a bottom line where you will no longer accept physical advances," said Hassanali. "I think it’s that needed step on our campus that can’t hurt… to defend yourself."
Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz said the skills taught through Safe and Sound supplement the services already provided to students by Campus Security.
"Our mandate is to provide a safe and secure environment on campus," said Fritz. "If people still want to take the extra steps for safety techniques, that’s why we have the Safe and Sound program."
The program consists of a single four-hour class, and is set to run on Saturdays in October through December.
The class begins with a teaching portion where students discuss various scenarios they might face.
"You talk about common sense stuff at the beginning," said Hassanali. "After that, you watch videos portraying different scenarios and then discuss what [the victim] could do differently."
Students are later brought into a wrestling room where they are taught how to punch, kick and escape from an attacker.
"You go through a padded attack scenario and get to use the skills you have learned," said Hassanali. "It’s one of the best parts of the class."
Hassanali feels that the program would benefit from increased exposure, indicating that higher turnouts are desired.
"We’re hoping that the rest of the classes do better," said Hassanali, referring to a poorly-attended class in September. "We’ll be doing some classroom visits to increase awareness."
Although there has only been one instance of assault reported on campus, Fritz still feels the skills taught at Safe and Sound are valuable to students.
"We’re dealing with perception more than anything else," said Fritz. "It builds the confidence level in students so they can fight back and have a positive response to an attack situation."
Hassanali echoed this view, mentioning that confidence and mental toughness developed through Safe and Sound aids in improving the university environment.
"It helps improve the confidence and mindset of students involved," said Hassanali. "It’s another way we can help people feel safer on
The program is made affordable to U of C students and staff through a Students’ Union subsidy, reducing the cost from $79 to $10. Non-university participants pay $60.
Those interested in participating should register at Campus Recreation, or call 220-7749.