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IU students take self-defense class after series of sexual assaults

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Nov. 18, 2015) -- After a series of sexual assaults on and off campus this semester, students at Indiana University took a free self-defense class offered by their peers.

The class, organized by IU Culture of Care and put on by the IU Self-Defense Club, focused on preventing an attack and defending yourself during an attack.

Danielle Castonzo, the Director of Sexual Well-being for IU Culture of Care, organized the class in response to assaults of students.

"I thought that it (was) a good idea, especially this year ... where we’ve had a lot of safety issues on campus," Castonzo said.

Twelve sexual assaults have been reported to IU Police this semester, including one this week in which a student said she opened her door to a man who attacked her in her off-campus apartment.

"I know that’s (self-defense is) something I’ve always wanted to learn and I have always felt kind of anxious walking around alone at night. I live off-campus in an apartment. I thought that (this) might help instill confidence in IU students," Castonzo said.

That confidence was evident as students practiced their skills. It also comes as the IU Student Association is surveying students, finding so far that about half of them don't feel safe. The group is pushing for greater response from school leaders, including initiatives like adding lighting on campus.

"On campus, there’s a lot of tension about it because you would think that safety would be first," Miko Siewenie, with the Student Association, said.

As for the class, Castonzo said she planned to organize more in the spring semester.

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