Union teams with state in campaign against sexual assault and domestic violence

Publication Date
Anti-sexual assault awareness event participants

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that members of the national championship men’s hockey team and other student leaders will challenge peers on campus and Division I and III sports rivals to join them in raising awareness of – and doing their part to take a stand against and prevent – sexual assault and domestic violence.

“Sexual assault and domestic violence are crimes that can impact people of all backgrounds, and it is imperative that we stand together as a society to put an end to this pervasive violence,” Cuomo said.

“By drawing attention to these issues and encouraging others to join them, the students at Union College are leading by example and showing that public awareness does have an impact. I commend these students on their efforts, and I urge all New Yorkers to join us in taking a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy joined with College President Stephen C. Ainlay as student leaders and athletes issued the challenge at the Nott Memorial Tuesday afternoon.

October is recognized in New York State and nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Statistics show that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college. As a former police officer, I also know that domestic violence impacts individuals from all walks of life, including college students,” Duffy said. “I applaud President Ainlay and the college’s academic and athletic leadership for fostering an environment on campus that empowers students to tackle an issue that directly affects them and their peers and encourages them to make a difference.”

Repeating a theme he emphasized in his opening convocation remarks, Ainlay said that the Union community needs to appreciate one another, advocate for one another and protect one another.

“We are committed to working together to make sure that everyone understands that sexual misconduct, harassment and violence are unacceptable and that there is no place for these behaviors in our community,” he said.

The governor’s office used the opportunity of the men’s hockey team’s championship to highlight the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence. Members recently became the first team to undergo Bystander Intervention training, which enlists and trains members of the campus community to intervene in situations where sexual harassment or sexual violence appear imminent.

Players plan to raise awareness throughout the season by wearing shoelaces or other items that are purple and/or teal, the colors associated with domestic violence and sexual assault, during games; distribute purple and teal silicone bracelets; and to make announcements about their commitment at games.

Sebastien Gingras ’16, a defenseman on the men’s hockey team, urged peers on campus and athletic rivals across the state and nation to join them in the campaign.

“We are committed to this issue,” Gingras said of his fellow teammates.

The College recently joined with nearly 200 colleges and universities to participate in a national public service campaign, “It’s On Us,” aimed at preventing sexual assault on college campuses.

The campaign, launched by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., hopes to fundamentally shift the way sexual assault is viewed on campuses “by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.”

Shayna Han ’15 is a member of the new student-led Committee on Consent Education and Awareness. Other members include Sydney Giller 16, Kyra DeTone '16 and Antonia Batha '17.

Last week, the group hosted Sexual Assault Awareness Week with a series of events across campus.

“Every 21 hours, someone is raped on a college campus,” she said. “So it’s on us, all of us, to make sure that every 21 hours, people know they will not be solitary, suffering victims, but our empowered survivors.”