As a young woman living miles away from my family, I am always getting advice on how to stay safe. My favorite piece of advice was given to me by my little brother, who said I should just walk around with a sword and no one will bother me, expect perhaps the police. But since I don’t know how to use a sword, nor do I have the money to go out and buy one, I had to find a better way to protect myself. Luckily, I found out about Risk Week, a program dedicated to educating women on staying safe.
Risk Week happens once a year during winter quarter and addresses different concerns that students might have about their mental or physical well-being. Last year’s Risk Week event took place toward the end of winter quarter and dealt with stress prevention.
This year, Risk Week was hosted by the Panhellenic Association in conjunction with the Gender Education Series during Week 5 and focused on teaching women how to fight back against assaulters without having to make a trip to the weapons shop. The week-long event taught women to be aware of their surroundings at all times, not to talk on one’s cell phone when walking home and my personal favorite, how to turn ordinary objects into deadly weapons. That’s right ladies—you can use your purse to turn the tables on anyone threatening your life. And we thought it was just storage with a strap.
The week’s events culminated on Feb. 9 when guest speaker Erin Weed, founder of ‘Girls Fight Back,’ empowered the over 200 women, both affiliated and non-affiliated, at the University Club to avoid becoming victims of violence.
Weed began ‘Girls Fight Back’ in June 2001 when one of her sorority sisters at Eastern Illinois University was murdered in her apartment. Deciding that women should never be helpless damsels in distress, Weed gathered all the life-saving information she could and began speaking to women across the nation about violence prevention.
For those who couldn’t attend the function, video clips from the program are available online. The video on her Web site, http://www.girlsfightback.com, is taken from a talk she gave at the University of Tampa. Also on the Web site is a promotional video where Weed outlines the three parts of her violence prevention program. The first line of defense is to reduce the risk in your life before something violent ever happens. The second part teaches women to trust their intuitions. The third and final section is interactive fighting where women are taught several fighting styles which utilize everyday tools in their surroundings.
Even though Risk Week is still fairly new on campus, students are starting to take notice. Lauren Savage, the Panhellenic coordinator for the program, hopes that the numbers will continue to grow as the Panhellenic community works with various staff members, like Maria C. Malagon, coordinator of the Gender Education Series, who helped put together this year’s Risk Week.
Keep your eyes open for next year’s Risk Week—it may just be the week you learn to save your life.
Filed Under: Features