Speakers, Self-defense Class and a Yeti Teach Students Lessons During Safety Week

By Gabrielle Parisi
Staff Writer

This article was originally published in Issue 10, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (March 3, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Resident Life hosted Campus Safety Week from Feb. 15 through Feb. 19 in order to help educate students, faculty and staff about being safer around campus.

“We do attend one of the safest college campuses ever, so we sometimes take our safety for granted,” said resident hall director Mary Colleen Romendio.

The first event of the week was a talk given by criminal justice Professor Johnathan Langton entitled “Who’s Following You? Online Safety.” Langton explained that various social media websites and apps are safe if you use them carefully and the way they are intended to be used. One of his biggest pieces of advice to students was to stop hitting “accept” before reading what they are accepting. Hitting “accept” can give the company of the app permission to access information on personal devices including computers, phones or tablets.

Desirae Forrest (right) instructs student Mike Healy (left) in a self-defense course during campus safety week. Photo by Gabrielle Parisi.
Desirae Forrest (right) instructs student Mike Healy (left) in a self-defense course during campus safety week. Photo by Gabrielle Parisi.

Langton repeatedly said, “It’s not a private thing,” in order to help students understand what they are surrendering to the company by downloading an app. Another event that took place during Safety Week was a basic self-defense class, which was taught by Desirae Forrest and Julia Baldassano. The instructors showed students defense techniques that could help them get out of sticky situations such as wrist grabs, bear holds and choking. Resident hall director Nick Lowry was covered in protective padding and used as a demonstration dummy so that the students could see how to properly and effectively carry out the different techniques. For any dangerous situation, Forrest and Baldassano showed the students different sensitive nerve areas on the body and ways to use the other person’s body as leverage against him or herself.

Helpful tips that the instructors gave included making oneself small to wiggle out of certain holds, using an elbow because it’s more powerful than people think and crying “Fire!” not “Help!” when in danger because it grabs attention better.

One of the most startling events of Safety Week was a yeti showing up to students’ dorms. To demonstrate how important it is to lock your doors and check who is knocking at the door, DSUPD went through each residence building with a person dressed as a yeti.

“Everyone is so trusting of the community,” said Romendio, “but when you are out in the real world, or if you lived anywhere else, you wouldn’t think twice about locking your doors.” If the student said, ‘Come in,’ the yeti would enter and growl at them to teach them a lesson.

Other events during Safety Week included DSUPD handing out ice scrapers for cars and talking to students about car safety during lunch periods and a CPR/AED and MedSled mini-session on Tuesday in Gambet.

Romendio said, “The entire week was really our campus’s opportunity to embrace some life skills

that are indispensable.” Her biggest safety tip to the DeSales community would be, “Ask questions and pay attention to your surroundings.”

The University Police have a safety advice page on the DeSales website for any students who are interested in learning more about how to stay safe on and off campus.

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