By Christian Rachal | LSU Student

A ring of armored women roared in support of their classmate while she battled against a would-be attacker during the fall session of the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program on the LSU campus.

The 12-hour program runs three days each semester and is designed to enhance the defensive options for women while developing their individual abilities to manage aggressive behavior. It's important that women take the course, says RAD volunteer and LSU police department sergeant Jeff Lemoine.

Day one consists of a lecture that teaches participants how to be cautious and avoid dangerous situations. For example, if they are being followed on the way home they should go to a police or fire station rather than to their homes.

On the second day students learn hands-on defensive skills that work with the body to resist aggressive action and escape harm.

"I'm more aware of my surroundings," said Courtney Fischer, a biology freshman and graduate of a recent RAD course. "If someone attacked me I'd know what precautions to take and I would know how to escape safely."

The final session is an optional simulation where RAD instructors and students equip protective gear and bring potential attack scenarios to life. It's the most important part because it's as realistic as possible and gives would-be victims invaluable experience, notes Lemoine, who has been involved in the program for 10 years.

Lemoine stresses the classes are conducted in a safe environment and that there aren't any requirements for body shape or size. "Students don't have to worry about being judged," he says. "It's gratifying to see someone who's a student walk in without confidence and walk out with their head up."

Due to the lifetime return and practice feature of RAD, a student that has taken the course may return to any location within the U.S. or Canada and retake the course for free as long as they have their original manual. Some of the students attending the most recent course were returning for their third or fourth time.

If desired, more advanced classes can be taken in which the participants hone the skills and learn more damaging techniques not taught in the beginner's course.

LSU hosts one course per semester, but courses can be given on demand if a group requests it. To do so, a group must contact the LSU Student Health Center at 225-578-5718. The course is offered at a discounted price of $25 for students and $45 for the general public.

The RAD offers courses for men, young adolescents and seniors, as well as a gun and knife defense course and an aerosol defense course.

Fischer, who took the course for the first time, said that she would definitely recommend it to other women. "If I was walking with my boyfriend and I got attacked, I wouldn't have to rely on him to defend me. I have confidence that I could defend myself."