University police offers personal safety course for women

By Malaika Des/ Contributing Writer

Every other month, the University’s police department offers a personal safety course for all female students, faculty and staff on campus.

Self-Defense Awareness & Familiarization Exchange is an introductory lesson focused on “prevention, options, strategies, and basic physical techniques” against violent attacks, according to FIUPD’s website. S.A.F.E. is hosted by FIUPD’s Training Sergeant Jose Ramirez, a retired Miami-Dade police officer. The class is also hosted by officers Sonia Meneses and Alexander Valiente.

S.A.F.E is part of a wider initiative created in March 2000 by the National Self Defense Institute and was implemented across state universities soon after. The class includes a presentation that provides skills and tips to reduce violent attacks. Afterward, in an interactive portion, participants learn five basic physical self-defense techniques.

FIUPD also offers Rape Aggression Defense courses. This is a three session class that focuses on the advanced physical aspects of self-defense. While not required, Sergeant Ramirez recommends women take the two-hour S.A.F.E. course first, followed by the more intense R.A.D. classes.

“[Self-defense] has to be instinctive and has to be in the muscle memory,” said Sergeant Ramirez. “You have to be able to react quickly and that doesn’t just come from doing it one time.”

Jessica Ramirez, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism had the opportunity to experience a S.A.F.E. class. She is also the daughter of Sergeant Ramirez, who encouraged her to participate.

“It’s important that every woman is educated on self-defense and is able to protect themselves,” she said.

According to Sergeant Ramirez, S.A.F.E. aims to provide women with knowledge to remain cautious and aware of their surroundings. He believes the skills taught are valuable, regardless of a woman’s size or physical condition.  

“When someone is trying to hurt you, you’d be surprised about the strength that comes from within,” he said.

Currently, the S.A.F.E. and R.A.D. classes are only open to women. However, the police department is considering implementing integrated classes for men and women, or classes for men only.

The next S.A.F.E. classes are scheduled for Thursday, Mar. 29 from 6 p.m. to  8 p.m. and Thursday, May 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Those interested in registering can visit and search under the “Services” tab for S.A.F.E.

Photo courtesy of FIU Police