Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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Lake Zurich offers a self-defense class

Junior and senior girls “who are interested in learning how to stay safe while away at college” were able to sign up for a martial arts self-defense class today at Lake Zurich High School in Illinois, the student newspaper reports.

Four law enforcement officers will serve as instructors, including Sgt Tracey Goodyear, a 27-year veteran with the Lake Zurich Police Department and the owner of Lake Zurich Family Martial Arts.

Adam Cupples, sports editor for The Bear Facts, quotes her as saying the class “is all about awareness and being safe on campus. We also practice body awareness and body control. It’s mainly about being aware of your surroundings and how to stay safe if you’re walking by yourself, especially if you’re coming home from a party alone, since the structure of walking home is different than what you grew up with.”

Lauren Salit is a senior at Lake Zurich, and she’s running the event for the National Honor Society, Mr Cupples reports. Next year at college, she said she hopes to be able to apply what she learns from the class.

“I think the knowledge and techniques learned from the class will be very valuable on a college campus next year,” she was quoted as saying. “I hope to be able to have the knowledge of what I need to do if self-defense becomes necessary in college and/or in life.”

Sgt Goodyear will be joined by Tom O’Connell, the defensive tactics instructor for the Lake Zurich and Kildeer police departments, as well as Maria Christiansen from the Northern Illinois University Police Department, where she serves as the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) and ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Counter, Evacuate) instructor. Detective Mark Frey from the Lake Zurich Police Department, who’s the school’s resource officer, will also be an instructor.

Voxitatis has previously reported about the dangers for college freshmen, especially women, who find themselves alone, or alone with a college man, and fall victim to abuse, harassment, or physical violence. “The perils of the Red Zone,” we entitled the article, but this is a good chance to bring it up again, as National Signing Day for high school seniors passed last week.

The “red zone” refers to that dangerous few months when new freshmen arrive on campus, when they are open to experimentation and more likely to engage in underage drinking in order to feel more accepted. This is when senior athletes strike: they use alcohol to get girls drunk and then rape them.

In these new experiences, self-defense could be the only thing that stands between a victim and serious injury. Which is not to say that colleges where the problem is especially severe are “promoting a rape culture,” as attorney Alan M Dershowitz reminded readers last weekend in the Washington Post.

The real danger, he suggests as he reviews Must We Defend Nazis? Why the First Amendment Should Not Protect Hate Speech and White Supremacy, is that students will claim that speech from the conservative hard right is “hate speech” in some way. They may demand “safe zones” on college campuses, where no speech from the hard left is squelched but where conservative (or even center right) speech is denounced as “hate speech” and shouted down.

“Now the right shoe of censorship is on the left foot. Those who seek to ban what they call hate speech are on the hard left, particularly at universities,” he writes. “Is Christian fundamentalist speech anti-gay or anti-women? Is pro-gay-marriage or pro-abortion speech anti-Christian? Are claims of anti-Asian discrimination really objections to race-based affirmative action and therefore anti-black speech? Is support for free speech a reflection of white privilege and, therefore, anti-minority?”

Especially for athletes who bring in significant revenue to supplement budgets, universities have occasionally bent the rules a little, or a lot. Combined with the support universities are required to provide for advocates of free speech, regardless of their politics or viewpoint on abortion, that can often create a situation that may seem hostile to college freshmen and make it difficult for them to learn. This is where censorship clashes with learning.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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