Free RAD classes potentially prepare women

Erika Ward

Female students at Western Illinois University have the opportunity to register for Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes to learn how to better defend themselves against potential assaults.

RAD are classes taught exclusively to women. Corporal Kerrie Bishop with the Office of Public Safety is one of the instructors for the class.  

“The point of RAD is to teach women basic self defense skills, what to look for, and how to basically protect yourself from a possible attack or abduction,” Bishop said.  “Maybe they don’t feel safe walking across campus or maybe they go home for breaks or are starting their careers.  RAD just gives a lot of good tips to help protect yourself against anything that may happen.”

In previous years, RAD classes required a $20 enrollment fee.  Recently, RAD classes were made free for all women on campus.  

“We have some professors who are very supportive of the class who have offered to pay for a certain amount of participants because it’s a really good program,” Bishop said. “President Thomas and the university’s leadership team discussed everything and came to the conclusion that this class should be offered free for participants.”

Participants can expect to learn about avoiding victimization, patterns of date rape encounters, basic principles of defense, full-speed hands-on exercise and dynamic simulation training during the four classes.

Bishop said that muscle memory is key to adequately defending oneself. 

 “We do a lot of muscle memory practices,” Bishop said. “If you practice using the techniques, they’ll come naturally when you need to use them.”

Preregistration for RAD classes is necessary because there are only 20 open spots. 

The course is a total of 12 hours over a four day time period:  Feb. 17 and 24, March 3 and 10 from 6-9 p.m. in the Colgate Room and racquetball courts at the Spencer Student Recreation Center.

Bishop believes that all women should consider taking the course.

“Even if someone might not be able to do the physical aspect of it, just sitting out and watching is good,” Bishop said.  “A lot of these techniques aren’t too complex, anyone can learn them.”

Near the end of the course, the participants are able to demonstrate a full-strength simulation in which one of the RAD-certified officers will pose as an attacker to the participant in order to create realistic scenarios to practice the techniques learned through the course.

Bishop said simply knowing that having the potential to prevent someone from being assaulted is great.

 “Some of it is just knowing there are risks out there and how to eliminate them.” Bishop said. “You see a big transition in the women who take this course from the first day of class to the end.  I think women really get empowered by the class.”

For more information or to register for RAD, visit the Office of Public Safety in Mowbray Hall, call OPS at (309) 298-1949, or email Corporal Kerrie Bishop at

Registration is open until the day class starts or until it reaches full capacity.

“Come and find out for yourself if RAD is good for you,” Bishop advised.  “It’s always good for anyone to have protective measures in their mind.”