SUNY’s Got Your Back campaign assists victims of sexual assault

The SUNY wide campaign SUNY’s Got Your Back finished its project in the end of 2016. The project was designed to provide victims of sexual assault with “comfort bags.”  English major junior Hannah Embry, who helped work on this project, can be seen above filling the bags with supplies.

Geneseo recently participated in an initiative to provide supplies and care packages to victims of interpersonal violence. The SUNY wide program, known as SUNY’s Got Your Back, began in the spring of 2016. 

The program revolves primarily around providing “comfort bags” to Rochester-based RESTORE Sexual Assault Service organization and the Livingston County based domestic violence organization, Chances and Changes, according to the Geneseo website. 

The initiative was launched in April 2016 at SUNY’s central offices in Albany, according to Title IX Coordinator and Assistant to the President for Diversity & Equity/Director of Affirmative Action Adrienne Collier. 

“Back on April 4, 2016, the SUNY Title IX Coordinators Association was formally established and we had our first meeting,” she said. “At that time, SUNY launched this program SUNY’s Got Your Back … This was a way of us giving back to some of the agencies that helped to support us and in turn we’re helping to support them by providing resources for them and other people in the community.”

The program was organized by the central SUNY system, according to Collier. 

“Geneseo made 100 bags. The bags were provided when we went to Albany and they already had them pre-stuffed,” Collier said. Program coordinators asked Geneseo participants to include additional T-shirts, sweatshirts and other supplies to the bags’ original contents, making them more substantial.

RESTORE’s College Advocate Coordinator Christi Waldron described the way that RESTORE has used these kits when Geneseo distributes them in a phone interview. 

“When we go to hospitals to provide support to anyone who may have been sexually assaulted we bring these comfort kits,” she said. “They have toiletries and personal care items that folks can use after something that’s happened to freshen up.”

The actual organization of the bags was done through the office of Director of Student Care Services & Title IX Coordinator Tamara Kenney. One of her interns, English major junior Hannah Embry, described her experience working on this project.

“Our project was very successful in getting donations. I’d imagine that part of the reason why we got so many donations is that the issue of sexual assault awareness has been very central recently,” she said. “More people are willing to talk about it and more willing to take action, so I think that part of the success was just the time that it happened.” 

Collier spoke about how the administration may be interested in participating in similar future initiatives due to the program’s success. 

“I think we wanted to take a conservative approach just to make sure that we would have enough things to actually add to the bags,” she said. “Since the program took off so well, this is something we would certainly consider continuing.” She is unsure whether the SUNY system would provide more bags.

Embry said that while she believed that this was a good move by the college, there are more actions that can be taken. 

“I think that there’s always more that can be done,” she said. “Like many colleges, sexual assault is an epidemic. It’s one in five, and it’s underreported so it’s probably more than that. I think that number alone says that we have a lot of work to do.”