The Daily Gamecock

Student Government's annual Safety Week promotes safe practices on campus

Lt. Jessica Velders demonstrates how to hit an attacker during a self-defense class on Feb. 10, 2022. Sessions like these are hosted by USCPD for student government’s annual Safety Week.
Lt. Jessica Velders demonstrates how to hit an attacker during a self-defense class on Feb. 10, 2022. Sessions like these are hosted by USCPD for student government’s annual Safety Week.

Student Government hosted Safety Week earlier this month, which is a series of five events aimed at providing lifesaving tips and supplies to ensure students stay safe on campus. 

One of the events was a ride-share safety Zoom meeting with Samantha Josephson’s parents. Josephson was a student who was kidnapped in Five Points and murdered in 2019. 

Maia Porzio, the student body Secretary of Health and Wellness, said ride-share safety with Josephson’s family was a reminder to students to “Stop, ask, match and inform” (SAMI) before getting in an Uber. 

This life-saving tip and the other safety features on the Uber app, such as the share my trip or "call the police" button, could save lives when used properly. 

Porzio said hearing from Josephson's family can help students realize that a terrible accident five minutes away from campus, like hers, could occur at any time. So they need to know how to defend and protect themselves. 

“As students, we tend to forget all these resources that the university provides us,” said Porzio. “(Safety week) lets students know you have so much control over your own safety and puts control back in their hands.”

Additionally, the week, which was from Feb. 7 through Feb. 11, included campus safety and self-defense classes with USCPD and tabling events to provide informational pamphlets and supplies to students. 

Lieutenant Jessica Velders, the instructor of the self-defense class with USCPD, said she gets excited to see a student’s mindset change and to see the moment when they realize they can defend and protect themselves. 

Velders said the self-defense classes teach students skills she knows they are already capable of to help them stand up for themselves and be aware of their surroundings. 

“It’s hard, especially in this age range, to kind of find your voice and be able to stand up for yourself, and (the self-defense class) just gives you a little more oomph and use the proper words to be able to do that,” Velders said.

During the self-defense class, Velders showed students many defense tactics, such as the hammer fist, gouging eyes, shin kick and shin scrape moves. 

Additionally, the class highlights the importance of knowing the vulnerable points to attack first, including the eyes, nose, ears, throat, groin and tops of feet. 

Velders also taught students to yell the word "no" when scaring the attacker to get more power in dangerous situations. This tactic helps because "no" is universal to most languages and should let the attacker know to stop. 

In dangerous situations, students should breathe and call USCPD for help, Velders said. 

Blake Gibbons, student body Secretary for Safety and Transportation, said the goal of Safety Week is to educate students on safety practices and give students a safe and healthy environment at the university. 

Gibbons said many students have expressed gratitude for the events and safety supplies provided by Student Government, such as drink safety lids for a night out. 

“The skills and techniques they demonstrated show that regardless of age, regardless of your personal fitness or situation, there’s different strategies for each situation. There’s usually always a way to get out," Gibbons said. 

If students on campus ever feel unsafe or would like to report an accident, they can call USCPD or download the Rave Guardian app to text USCPD. Additionally, the Leadership and Service Center on campus has informational pamphlets with tips from Safety Week and drink safety lids.