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Noisemaking Devices, Self-Defense Best for Safely

By Eva Moy
Staff Reporter

From mace and pepper spray to electric prodders, there is a plethora of personal safety devices on the market. But out of all of these, the Campus Police generally recommend noise-making devices and self-defense training.

Many chemical devices and weapons are either illegal - either on the MIT campus or in Massachusetts - or require licensing and training, said Anne P. Glavin, chief of Campus Police.

Some of the weapons and chemical sprays are dangerous to the user or poorly made. In addition, weapons can be easily taken away and used against the victim, Glavin said.

"No device is going to substitute for good common sense, a sense of awareness," and preparation for dealing with urban life, Glavin said.

Assailants attack people who look vulnerable and are, for example, walking around with headphones on and their head in a book, said Sergeant Cheryl deJong Vossmer of the Crime Prevention and Sensitive Crimes Unit.

"We want people to avoid those encounters to start with," Glavin said.

"If you know what types of situations to avoid there is a very good chance of not having to encounter a situation like that," Glavin said.

Self-defense classes

The beginning of classes is the busiest time of year for the Crime Prevention Unit, Glavin said. The unit mainly passes out information and conducts workshops for MIT groups that invite them.

In addition, the Campus Police offer a Rape Aggression Defense class which "teaches practical defensive techniques that require no special skills," according a RAD brochure.

"RAD also offers the opportunity to test these learned skills on a real person during a simulated attack," according to the brochure.

RAD classes are limited to women, but special classes that include men or are designed for a specific group on campus can be conducted upon request, Glavin said.

"We focus heavily on rape because that's what women fear most," Glavin said.

The classes, held over a two-month period, cost $20, and any subsequent classes are free. Practicing the skills learned is very important, Vossmer said.

The Physical Education Department also offers a separate self-defense class which is free and open to both men and women.

Both classes can be used toward physical education credit.