FMU’s Gender-Awareness Week (G-Week) kicked off with a self-defense class on March 25 in the Smith University Center.
Two women from the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault led the self-defense class. One of the two women, Sarah Sweeney, said they travel and provide classes throughout the Pee Dee region where they meet with church groups, sororities and anyone else who may need their services.
Sweeney was assisted by Mackenzie Clementson, who has been involved with similar organizations like the Pee Dee Coalition since college. Clementson worked at a rape crisis center before becoming employed with the Pee Dee Coalition where she assists with self-defense classes and other outreach programs and services.
Pamela Rooks, professor of English and coordinator of the gender studies program at FMU, coordinated the self-defense class.
“G-week and the activities across campus are hosted by the gender studies and English departments to raise awareness about gender issues, self-defense, domestic violence, sexual assault and community responsibility,” Rooks said.
BreAnna Roof, a freshman who learned about G-week after the self-defense course, said she attended the class hoping to learn how to better protect herself and feel more secure when she is alone in public and on campus.
“Crazy, scary things happen to young women all the time,” Roof said. “If I can learn how to prevent those things from happening to me or someone around me, I want to do it. I’m thankful that this class was offered on campus. I think it’s necessary.”
After the class, free t-shirts were given out that read “It’s on US.” This class was the start of a week full of education and awareness to help FMU learn to take care of and understand each other better.
Along with their self-defense instructions, the Pee Dee Coalition also offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency safe shelters, transitional shelters and preventative services to victims and people of the Pee Dee. All of their services are free, and their crisis hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-1820.