WSU University Recreation’s (UREC) Wellbeing program works to prevent and combat dangerous situations through their Men’s Violence Prevention class beginning Oct. 8 and 9 at UREC.
Brad Stewart, the UREC fitness and Wellbeing coordinator, said the class is basically a violence prevention class with attention paid also to the recognition of risky situations and how to navigate them. He said men have the ability to stop violent acts whether they are the victim or the perpetrator.
“Ninety percent of statistics have men involved in violence problems,” Stewart said. “Physical or sexual, if we can get to those perpetrating individuals and maybe if we can change how they act and respond, then hopefully we can reduce what goes on out there.”
In the class, participants discuss sexual assault for men, but the main focus of the class addresses how to deal with fight situations like the bar fight scenario or other alcohol-related events, Stewart said. A lot of people think the best response to a violent situation is to fight, but this class shows participants how and why this is not the case, he said.
“Even if you aren’t spreading violence, if you aren’t an active bystander helping prevent it, then you are not helping reduce the problem,” Stewart said. “Also, even if you do think you can take care of yourself there is a larger piece to try to end and limit violence, both if you see your friends going through it and how to respond to certain incidents.”
Stewart said people often do not like to think or read about violence problems, but people, especially the freshmen who do not know their surroundings yet, should learn at least the safety components involved and how to reduce the risk of getting caught in a bad situation. He said sexual assault and other kinds of assault are prevalent crimes, but it takes an unfortunate story in the papers for people to consider acting and learning about the subject.
“During students’ first year on campus, they are more likely to put themselves in a potentially violent situation,” Stewart said. "I wish that every student would go through these classes.”
The class has been running for three years, but the turnout rate for the class is not typically high, and people become complacent with their safety, Stewart said. The UREC does outreach in the community and works with ASWSU, GSA and Women’s safety. They often provide free mini self-defense classes for the Greek community and RSO groups.
“At the start of the program about four-and-a-half years ago, we had a few high-profile sexual assaults on campus that promoted us to build up our classes,” Stewart said. “Our outreach programs definitely showed that something changed in individuals’ thoughts to make them more aware of the situation and available classes.”
For the men’s class, those who participate in a drill simulation during the session and are a full-time undergraduate may be eligible to apply for the Self-Defense and Personal Safety Grant, Stewart said. The UREC Wellbeing program also offers several more popular women’s classes on subjects including self-defense, prevention and sexual assault, he said.
Vickie Verdusco, the assistant director of facility operations at UREC, serves as a co-instructor of the Men’s Violence Prevention class and also instructs for the Women’s Self-Defense department. She said both the men’s and women’s classes offer a safe zone for education on safety and violence prevention.
“There is a definite need for these classes because awareness is priceless when it comes to one’s safety or the safety of their friends,” Verdusco said. “If a participant takes away only one safety concept or tactic, the class is worth it.”
Lt. Steve Hansen of the WSU Police Department said he believes any classes, including those offered by the UREC, that help prevent any altercation are wonderful.
“I think that if it is an issue for even one person, anything we can do to help them is great,” Hansen said.
The class costs $40 for Student Recreation Center members and $55 for non-members. Registration for the class closes Oct. 4. For more information and for registration, visit the website wellbeing.wsu.edu.