Alleged sexual assaults on campus put students on edge

Alleges sexual assaults on campus put studenst on edge :Senior Jacob Guinn Plans a self-defense class Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. in the University Union's California Suite. The class is free of cost and open to all students.:Alicia Palenyy - State Hornet

Alleges sexual assaults on campus put studenst on edge :Senior Jacob Guinn Plans a self-defense class Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. in the University Union's California Suite. The class is free of cost and open to all students.:Alicia Palenyy - State Hornet

Leia Ostermann

Something as simple as digging in your purse for keys has students looking over their shoulders. The recent alleged sexual assaults on campus have inspired fear in students, but also a healthy desire for self-defense, awareness and protection.

Jacob Guinn, senior communication studies major, is planning a free event on campus to help students learn basic self-defense techniques.

Kovar’s, a karate business that has taught classes at schools before, is partnering with Guinn to host a free self-defense class at 12:15 p.m. today in the University Union’s California Suite, located on the third floor.

“I feel terrible for the people that were assaulted but instead of fear mongering, people should be more prepared and learn self defense,” said Lindsey Pavao, junior psychology major. “I have a little mace and I carry it with me everywhere.”

The Sacramento State Police Department is investigating the assault at Capistrano Hall and the alleged kidnapping and sexual assault in the residence hall parking lot. In the meantime, the police plan to increase their controls and concentrate more of their efforts on campus, said police Det. Scott Christian.

“It is very unfortunate and super sad but also a very common thing in our society,” Pavao said. “Statistics show that one in four women will experience a sexual assault by the time they are 40.”

Self-defense and awareness have become a movement on campus in order to prevent similar situations for happening again, Guinn said.

“Knowing how to defend yourself is always worthwhile; you never know when you might be faced with a situation and you should know how to protect yourself,” Christian said.

Guinn thinks knowing how to prepare for defending yourself is just as important as parking where there is light.

“Looking online, the police have two sentences about parking suggestions, but both men and women have to walk across campus all the time and this is a good reason for people to learn self-defense skills,” Guinn said.

The Sac State Police Department website does not provide tips for self-defense and awareness. The advice police do have is under motor vehicle theft prevention tips.

According to Sac State Police, students should “arrive early and park smart. That is, park in an area with a high concentration of foot traffic or with people present. Or, if you park at night, park nearest the best lighting.”

Guinn is helping to plan this event as part of a communication studies class that required him to plan an event on campus that would benefit the campus community. As a karate student himself and in light of the recently alleged assaults, Guinn said this class is timely and necessary.

“Defending yourself is a reality, and it’s important to know how to do it, like swimming,” said Anthony Valdez, one of the Kovars trainers.

Valdez and the other trainers plan to teach a few techniques that will work in multiple situations such as blocks and getting out of holds.

Self-defense gives you a mindset so that you are always aware, though not necessarily on guard, Guinn said.

“It’s not like you walk around with your hands up,” he said. “But you set boundaries; you are assertive. The physiology and posture that you hold plays into how attackers pick their victims. They want people that are distracted.”

The Kovars instructors said that skills in self-defense are not guaranteed but they will make a difference and could change the outcome of any situation.

“It’s one of those things that it is better to have and not need than to need and not have,” said trainer Tim Leard.

Practicing self-defense in a controlled environment is empowering, Guinn said. It shows how a person is distracted when he or she looks at a phone or down at a watch.

“One guy in our group of instructors even said that raising your hand up so you can see your watch and still see in front of you is a good idea,” Guinn said. “It shows that you aren’t an easy target.”

The buddy system is something Christian and Guinn both strongly recommended. This is the habit of always walking in groups of two or more, always having a buddy, someone there for support and protection.

“It’s a matter of judgment,” Pavao said. “Make sure you are never alone at night and if you are, don’t text and have good posture so that they know you are aware and looking around.”

Although students agree that self defense is important, they are also looking to the police for more security, Guinn said.

“I am on campus every day and I see a cop about once a month,” said senior business major Tyler Johnson. “They should probably step up the amount of cops in the parking lots. I have never seen a cop in the parking structures or the parking lot, especially at night. I’m sorry, but no one is going to get assaulted in the middle of the Union.”

Johnson compared the recent assaults to last year’s incident that resulted in a student’s death.

“They really need to step up security. It is kind of scary,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how many cops there are in relation to people but I don’t think there are enough.”

Guinn said the end of daylight-saving time and the days being shorter and darker also create a better environment for predators.

“People need to be alert and on the lookout for people that are in your personal space, maybe even walking too close,”

Guinn said. “It doesn’t matter if you are just talking to someone; you should never allow them to get to close to you.”

Christian encouraged students to call the police department, to take advantage of the night shuttle and to always walk in groups or pairs at night.

“You need to be alert to your surroundings, avoid dividing your attention. If you are walking with headphones and you have the music up really loud, that’s all you can hear,” Christian said. “Always have a plan and think of what you would do in a given situation if someone was trying to take your keys, or your laptop or your backpack.”

This free class is open and recommended to both men and women, Guinn said. There is always something to learn, whatever level of karate or self-defense you know.

“This is the kind of thing that should catch everyone’s attention,” Johnson said. “Man, I always wished I knew karate. We should all be doing something to learn to protect ourselves.”

Leia Ostermann can be reached at [email protected]