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A man and woman fighting.

Students can learn how to defend themselves at a free violence-prevention class offered on Thursday as part of the 2006 Assault Awareness Week.

Keeping students safer

By Pauline Oo

April 18, 2006

Last year, University senior Amanda Hemmingsen organized a weeklong program in her residence hall to help educate and provide resources for students to stay safer on and off campus. This year that program, April Assault Awareness Week, has been expanded to three nearby residence halls. The 2006 April Assault Awareness Week runs April 17 to 21 in the Superblock--Frontier, Territorial, Centennial, and Pioneer Halls.

"We'll be offering a self-defense class and many different activities looking at violence prevention," says Hemmingsen, a Frontier Hall community advisor. "The goal of this event, when I started it last year and now, is to help students become more aware of how to keep themselves safe." Hemmingsen, who also organizes Frontier Hall's annual Secret Santa drive, will be receiving the Presidents' Student Leadership and Service Award on May 1. The award recognizes the accomplishments and contributions made by outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota.

Hemmingsen decided to organize the Assault Awareness Week in 2005 after taking a self-defense class at the University. "I thought it would be a good idea to have a program to educate first-year students on campus [personal safety]," she says. "The rate of assaults [at and near the University of Minnesota] is not different from other Big 10 schools, but I still feel that preparation and awareness is necessary."

Yesterday, the Aurora Center at the U presented a peer-led program titled "The Green M&M Project," which examined the myths and messages associated with sex, power, and growing up male and female. Today (April 18), the Superblock will host a resource fair from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Centennial Hall poolroom. Representatives from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, University Police, OutFront MN, Sexual Health Awareness and Disease Education, Boynton Health Services, Sojourner Project Inc., and the Harriet Tubman Center will be on hand to answer questions from students.

Basic campus safety tips

* Report any suspicious people or activities to the University police department.

* Do not prop open entrances to buildings.

* Lock your work and living areas every time you leave.

* Report all maintenance problems to Facilities Management.

* Use the free security escort service (612-624-WALK) rather than walking alone at night.

* Be mindful of your surroundings.

* Report lost entrance-access cards immediately.

Call 612-626-TIPS or e-mail to report an anonymous University of Minnesota crime tip.

Source: University Police

On Wednesday, a free screening of The Karate Kid will air from 9 to 11 p.m. in the Frontier Hall courtyard. On Thursday, U of M faculty member Mary Brandl will teach a free class on violence prevention and show students basic self-defense methods from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Frontier Hall main lounge. The Assault Awareness Week will end on Friday with an alcohol-free Block Party from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Pioneer Hall courtyard.

"A root beer keg, snacks, and music are the highlights of this event," says Hemmingsen. "It is a nice way for students to end the week, and [we will also present] statistics of alcohol use focused around the party atmosphere."

The U's Residential Housing Association and the hall councils of Frontier, Territorial, Centennial, and Pioneer Halls are sponsoring the 2006 Assault Awareness Week programs.

"I would love to see this be an annual event, but since I will be graduating and going to graduate school at Iowa State, someone else will need to take the reins," says Hemmingsen. "If [that person] ever needed help, though, I'd be delighted to help out."