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Students Learn to Fight Back

Published: September 21, 2007
By Robin Roger

University of Tampa students learned to be bad victims Wednesday night in a program designed to teach self defense.

“You can’t guarantee that you won’t ever become a victim,” said Erin Weed, founder and executive director of Girls Fight Back! “But you can be a very bad victim.”

Weed instructed students to trust their intuition and avoid being an easy target. She taught them a three-step formula for self-defense, with easy-to-remember moves. The program was sponsored by UT's Residence Life staff, the Panhellenic Council and Team CHAOS, which provides alcohol education programs to students living on campus.

Weed also spoke about cyber safety, social smarts and home security. She demonstrated how household items, like keys and a hairbrush, can be used as weapons, and recommended several safety products, such as a door alarm and pepper spray.

The 29-year-old began teaching self-defense skills to young women across the country after her friend and sorority sister at Eastern Illinois University was killed in her off-campus apartment in 2001.

“I don’t know you, but I care about you,” she told the UT students. “And I don’t want something like that to happen to you. When we pair our minds with our bodies, and trust our intuition, we can be our own best protectors.”

Author of Girls Fight Back! The College Girls Guide to Protecting Herself, Weed has studied several forms of self defense and is a certified instructor. She was named “Girl of the Year” in 2002 by CosmoGirl magazine, and was honored with the “Hometown Hero” award by John Walsh, founder of America’s Most Wanted.

Weed suggested students enroll in a self-defense class through the McNiff Fitness Center, which is offered two days a week.

“I thought it was fantastic,” junior Taylor Dobbs said of the program. “Her enthusiasm made me feel like I could do it. Now I’m inspired.”