Green Dot and ROTC to offer personal protection class


Green Dot, a Northern Iowan Student Government (NISG) sponsored gender violence prevention program, is partnering with UNI’s ROTC to offer a free personal protection class on April 17, from 2:45-5 p.m. at the Nielsen Fieldhouse. The idea for this class originated about six months ago when Major Maria Lawson, who is an active guard reserve soldier in the Iowa National Guard and is an assistant professor of military science at UNI, had lunch with her coworker, Major Jodi Marti. Marti brought up the topic of personal protection classes that she helps instruct in the Des Moines area, and asked if UNI and the ROTC program might be interested in doing something similar, and it took off from there. 

“When [ROTC] partnered with Green Dot, I wanted to make sure we got their take on it, so I asked Green Dot employees what we should focus on. If college students are walking home from the bars, if they’re in a relationship of any sort and it becomes abusive, this class will focus on a lot of those types of things, giving examples of real world situations and how to handle them,” said Lawson. 

“[Marti] brought it up that this is a good class for anyone who wants to be aware of their surroundings. So it’s not necessarily a self defense class, they might throw a little bit of that in it, but it’s a class to  inform people to look up from their cell phones, or if you have your airpods in, to still be looking around and being aware of what’s going on around you. This class helps you focus on what to look for in terms of your surroundings so you can get yourself out of a potentially threatening situation.” explained Lawson. 

Major Jodi Marti will be one of the instructors of the class, along with Ray Boyer, who instructs personal protection classes in the Des Moines area with Marti. Boyer has an extensive history with law enforcement and protection classes. Along with the classes in Des Moines, Boyer is an associate and lead instructor with Sharkey’s Karate Studio in Chicago since 1998, is a firearms instructor and a corporate security and safety advisor. Boyer will share statistics and experiences from his time as an Urbandale Reserve officer, as well as the information he’s acquired from interviewing multiple inmates about who they tend to target and why. Boyer will ask for male and female volunteers and show them how easy it is to be a target, and also how strength and size isn’t a sure way to get out of a situation.

Since this is the first class, it is being targeted specifically for ROTC cadets to take, but if the class goes well, Lawson plans for it to be open to campus either annually or once a semester, starting next fall. “In the future I want it to be campus wide for everyone to come, so that they can have the training from Green Dot that they can use and they have this personal protection class,” said Lawson. April is the official month for sexual harassment and sexual assault awarness and prevention, and the next Green Dot training session will be April 13, at 3 p.m. in Rod Library.