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Staying safe at college: How one student's organization encourages discussion about self-defense

The Students for Self-Defense encourages ASU students to weigh in on different self-defense options

Members of the Students for Self-Defense club at ASU watch a presentation at a weekly meeting on Jan. 22, 2017.

Members of the Students for Self-Defense club at ASU watch a presentation at a weekly meeting on Jan. 22, 2017.

For many first-time students at ASU, concerns exist about personal safety, leading some to ponder what types of self-defense actions are appropriate on campus. 

Students for Self-Defense, or S4SD, seeks to bring defensive awareness to ASU. Last semester, S4SD advocated on campus for House Bill 2072, a later-rejected bill which pushed for concealed-carry privileges on campus. 

Garret Walliman, former adviser for S4SD and the club's community ambassador on Jan. 12, set up a student poll at ASU's Tempe campus which asked students how they would defend themselves on campus. 

“I think it’s very important for every student to have an understanding of what self-defense is and how they can engage in it … and all the ways that can be taken to be safe.” he said.

The poll asked the student body to choose its preference of self-defense, giving the options of a phone call with a 5-to-15 minute response time, pepper spray, a handgun, martial arts or a knife.

He said the information gathered at the poll will be used to match the interests and methods of students who desire to learn more about self-defense. He said that S4SD wants to create a change in the methods of self-defense allowed on campus,

"What I'm more really big on is them having the knowledge and the education about what self-defense involves," he said. "Like, 'how do I know if I am in a safe area, or what sort of habits can I do to make sure that I don't get in any trouble? And if I do get in trouble, how do I escape?'" 

Criminology and criminal justice freshman Alma Acuña said it is not the student's responsibility to protect themselves but rather the security and ASU Police's job in patrolling our campuses. 

"That's why we have police officers that are trained to use guns" she said.  

Walliman said that another feature that S4SD will be showcasing at their meetings is a former marine will come in to teach students the martial arts to advocate safety in any given situation.

Public policy sophomore Marco Mares Jr. said there is a correct setting for weapons, but school is not one of them. 

"While our Second Amendment rights are really important ... we are opening a door for a lot of other things to go wrong," he said. "While I appreciate the protection at home from having a gun, I just don't feel like I would appreciate it as much in the public settings of school." 

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