8 October 2019
“It’s a great class, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s open to everybody,” said Sgt. Lisa Dipzinski of the UCCS Police Department regarding a program that offers self-defense classes to students on campus for free.
The Never-A-Victim program’s four hour class is designed to protect women and men through education and self-defense training and includes both classroom and physical participation.
During the first hour, the content focuses on preventable measures such as being aware of surroundings, avoidance and healthy relationships. The following two hours are spent learning self-defense tactics, and the last hour puts these self-defense moves into play against the instructors.
“What I love best is seeing someone come in who lacks confidence and is shy, then after four hours they leave with such confidence. They walk with their head held high because they have the tools to [protect themselves],” said Dipzinski. “I love seeing that switch.”
The program was first introduced to campus approximately four years ago. It was initiated to replace a program called Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) which was relatively unsuccessful on campus. The class was a total of twelve hours split into four sessions. “It was just too long for students to put energy into it,” said Dipzinski. “They had too much on their plate.
“[Never-A-Victim] is a great alternative,” she said.
Dipzinski knew Doris Rivera-Black, the Never-A-Victim founder, from working together at the sheriff’s office. Rivera-Black has extensive law enforcement training as well as personal experience with domestic violence. Dipzinski approached her about bringing the classes to campus once the program had been developed.
Rivera-Black attends almost every class and helps sponsor the program, along with the Student Government Association (SGA), to make the classes free for students. “When she’s there, she explains her story and it’s profound,” Dipzinski said.
Every year Dipzinski goes to SGA with a bill for funding.
“SGA supports this program every year,” she said. The money from the bill goes towards funding the instructors and booklets with the topics of the program.
“I have feedback forms for every class, and I take pictures and videos,” Dipzinski said. “That gets sent to SGA so they are apprised of what’s happening and see that the money they validated is being put towards a good cause and is working.”
The attendance for this semester’s four classes is already at capacity. “The numbers are so good that we want to build upon it, but we don’t have the instructors to do it,” Dipzinski said. “My overall goal would be to make it a class that would involve 1 hour a week per semester. It would include everything we already teach and then build upon that each week.”
The program has received positive feedback from students, Dipizinski said; “I have had a few emails from people saying, ‘Thank you. You taught me to be aware and I put myself in this position and successfully got out of it based on what I learned in the class.’”
Since introducing the Never-A-Victim classes to campus, the overall impact of safety on campus as a result of the program remains unknown. “I haven’t broken down research,” Dipzinski said.