Student group works towards preventing sexual violence

by Tracey Nelson

Recent on-campus sexual assaults have motivated the student-run, school-registered group Self-Defense Against Sexual Violence to make students aware of the organization’s efforts to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.
The year-old group is trying to raise University funding to facilitate more and better workshops to teach students how to protect themselves.
“It is scary because I run down by the river,” said Julie Smith, a University Dental School student, in response to a recent rape by East River Road. “I guess you live in ignorance until something happens.”
Smith said it seems suspect that the University is not providing any aid. “You would think the University would want to take some action, that they would react in some way. But there is a lack of action.”
The self-defense group teaches Tae Kwon Do. However, it cautions that the martial arts should be used as a last resort.
“Violence is not the first option. We teach self-awareness and prevention,” says Michael Shim, SDASV co-founder and University student.
The self-defense group teaches prevention techniques such as traveling in groups, using security monitor escorts, watching the number of drinks consumed, and guarding against illegal date-rape drugs. It also advocates the use of body language and talking through situations.
The group is utilizing Alph Phi Omega fraternity members to get student support for the group by passing out fliers and through word of mouth.
Sophomore Melete Gegziabher is concerned about the sexual assaults on campus and said she thinks the University should give some funding to the group.
Senior Sarah Mularoni said she does not care whether the group receives funding but is curious why the University is not giving any aid.
“My roommate would go to the workshop for sure. She started taking Tae Kwon Do in response to the rapes on campus,” Mularoni said. “I would go if the timing was right.”
SDASV is planning another meeting in December and hopes to receive University funding to offset the $300 to $400 cost of renting equipment and a meeting place.
Interestingly Shim said, more men show up than women.
Currently Shim funds the meetings out of his own pocket. “Whether we get funding, the classes will continue no matter what,” he said. “(Funding) for teaching someone to keep from being victimized is worth it, but my checkbook can’t handle this forever,” he added.
Last year Shim submitted a grant proposal for University aid but was denied funding via a form letter. Shim said he might not be promoting the group enough, but he said it is an important club, and by helping to keep the University safe it will make the University look good.
The group is considering renting Williams Arena for the December seminar, but is holding a meeting in November to solidify the specifics for that seminar, Shim said.
Students can get involved in planning the seminar by e-mailing Shim at [email protected]
SDASV started over a year ago when Shim saw that the police reports in the Daily always had some sexual violence crime.
“Someone has to take a stand on sexual violence. I have been involved in Tae Kwon Do, a Korean sport, since childhood and I see this as giving back to the community,” Shim said.
Tracey Nelson welcomes comments at [email protected]