Sophomore community health communications major and Kinesiology Club President Cheyenne Kern has started self-defense classes at the University of Indianapolis. Kern started the self-defense classes to help expand students’ knowledge of self-defense in general. To attend the classes students must register online, Kern said, so that the Kinesiology Club knows how many students to expect.
According to Kern, the first meeting had a great turnout. During the first meeting, the students in attendance practiced floor work along with a few other skills that would be helpful if they ever got into dangerous situation.
— UIndy KINS Club (@UIndyKinsClub) February 26, 2016
“I mean, everyone was really comfortable with each other. We knew that it was an educational setting, and it was meant for us to learn,” Kern said. “At first, I am not sure how comfortable Sergeant [Brandon] Pate was with, you know, the guys and girls.”
Kern is not the only person who wanted to get involved. Pate, of the University of Indianapolis Police Department, also wanted to help.
“It all happened really fast. I got in touch with Sgt. Pate through [Assistant Director of Annual Giving] Coran Sigman,” Kern said. “Her husband actually works here [at the University Police Department], and Sgt. Pate came to the last class and helped us with some ground work.”
While this is Kern’s first time starting a program like the self-defense classes, Pate is not new to teaching the classes.
“I have taught probably a dozen self-defense classes that are smaller type style,” Pate said.
Pate has the experience to help with the classes, having a background of 25 years of experience in martial arts and a black belt in Judo.
Kern said she got the idea when she started to think about how her friends and fellow UIndy students were going out of town for Spring Break where sexual harassment and assault tend to happen more frequently.
“I was thinking about how people kind of make muddled decisions when there is alcohol [involved], and just [during] Spring Break in general,” Kern said. “I just wanted those who wanted it to be able to have a little bit of knowledge in the back of their mind, so [if] they did get into a sticky situation, [they would know what to do.]”
Pate and Kern agreed that everyone has his or her own personal definition of sexual harassment, and that any unwanted contact is the simplest definition. Pate said that Indiana state law defines sexual harassment as nonconsensual sexual contact.
“I would say [whether it] be at a party or casual event, whatever it is, if it is an unwanted touch or gesture, it falls under sexual harassment or assault,” Pate said.
Having been with the University police for a year, Pate said that sexual harassment is not prevalent on campus.
“We haven’t seen a lot, at least, [during] the year I have been here. Not a lot [of students have] come forward. In my opinion, does it happen? Probably. Are people embarrassed? Sure. But there is not a lot of reported [sexual harassment] on this campus.”
Because April is sexual assault awareness month, many students are involved through various events on campus. Everything from a Read My Lips event on April 13 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Schwitzer Atrium to a Take Back the Night event on April 27 at 9 p.m. in McCleary Chapel to other events are offered throughout the month. There will also be a self-defense class offered on April 26 at 9 p.m. in UIndy Hall B and C.