Tackling dangerous situations: DSU professionals say students should be aware of surroundings

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Dixie State University is one of the safest schools in the nation, but that doesn’t mean students shouldn’t be prepared to tackle dangerous situations.

According to DSU crime statistics, on DSU’s campus crimes against property are more common than crimes against people, but harassment still happens especially through technology.

Ron Isaacson, captain security officer, said there are a number of ways for a student to ensure their safety.

“Make sure if you’re walking alone at night, especially if you’re a female, walk with somebody; have someone there with you,” Isaacson said. 

Another precaution students should take is to make sure vehicle doors are always locked and to be aware of any potential theft opportunities.

Isaacson said the campus security department receives about four reports of e-communication harassment a semester, making it a fairly common situation for DSU students.  

Technology poses another problem because it serves as a distraction for potential victims. Isaacson said in such a technology-driven society, it’s easier for people not to realize they are in a potentially dangerous situation. He said one of the most effective ways to stay safe is to always be aware of one’s surroundings.

Cindy Cole, associate general counsel and Title IX coordinator, agreed technology has made harassment more common due to increasing aggressor access. Cole, who specializes in sexual harassment, said about one in 15 college-aged women will be a victim of stalking — one of the most common types of sexual harassment. Other common forms of sexual harassment include verbal actions like catcalling or using diminutive language like “babe,” “doll,” “hon,” etc. along with physical sexual harassment.

“There’s a lot of phone or social media harassment,” Cole said. “That’s how students communicate to one another, so that’s the most common type of harassment.”

Campus police officer Ola Kaonohi is a certified instructor of a self-defense class available on campus. There are lecture and lab portions to teach students about crime rates, statistics, their rights and how to escape from physical aggressors.

Kaonohi said mentality is one important factor to self-defense. If a victim is not mentally prepared, unconfident, or lacks knowledge about self defense, it lowers the chances for escape.

“The class teaches very basic stuff,” Kaonohi said. “Can you properly throw a punch, elbow or knee, or can you properly escape from some type of grab?”

Although each scenario of harassment is different, Kaonohi said self defense knowledge can be come in handy anywhere.

DSU students have various resources on campus to help with harassment situations, and the amount of resources is growing. Kaonohi will also be teaching Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD, class soon on campus to offer knowledge about defense in situations of rape and sexual harassment. Because this will be DSU’s first time offering RAD, all information on the course is to be determined.

Kaonohi said for students to stay safe they should get to know people before fully trusting them. He said often times, aggressors are people who no one would expect.

Isaacson, Cole and Kaonohi agreed that students are welcome to go to their offices with harassment reports, on or off campus, and to never hesitate to dial 911 if there is an imminent emergency.