Stony Brook University, in collaboration with State University of New York (SUNY), hosted the SUNY’s Got Your Back at SBU event on Monday, March 11.
SUNY’s Got Your Back initiative provides SUNY campuses across the state with materials to make comfort kits for victims and survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence and raise awareness and support for prevention and response to sexual violence.
Long sets of tables were spread out around the Ballroom A in the Student Activities Center. SUNY donated all the items to create the comfort kits, but more than 200 volunteers, from approximately 177 different student clubs and organizations, helped set up and organize the materials such as cloth towel, cosmetic kits, tissues, toothbrushes, notebooks and writing utensils, which the over 300 participants then gathered and put into the bright blue bags.
Renowned DJ and activist Zeke Thomas made an appearance as the guest speaker and performed a set for the participants as an appreciation for their work. Thomas is the son of basketball legend Isiah Thomas and a survivor of sexual assault, and aims to raise awareness about the issues of sexual violence and survivor support through the platform of his music. He partnered with SUNY to perform at many of the campuses hosting SUNY’S Got Your Back throughout the year.
Stony Brook’s Center for Prevention and Outreach reached out to multiple departments and organizations on campus, including Student Affairs, Undergraduate Colleges, Graduate Student Organization, Faculty Student Association, and Stony Brook Athletics, about partnering on the event. “Our colleagues on campus were invaluable in making this event a success, and their buy-in and participation in the planning and implementation reinforces that Stony Brook is serious about sexual assault, and that preventing and responding to violence on campus is everyone’s responsibility,” said Christine Szaraz, Coordinator of Sexual Violence Prevention and Outreach Programs and co-organizer of the event.
Hundreds of students were eager to be part of this program and helped achieve the goal of 2,500 bags in record time. These bags will be provided to VIBS (the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk) for those who use the SANE Centers and other local violence response resources through VIBS. “Having so many different clubs and organizations involved in the event helped the event run smoother and also helped us reach our goal of 2,500 bags in less than an hour!,” said Samantha Winter, Survivor Advocate and Prevention Specialist and co-organizer of the event.
Participation in events such as SUNY’s Got Your Back remind people who have experienced sexual assault that they are not alone and that they have others on their side. “It is amazing to see so many students come out because it shows how supportive our students are of survivors,” said Winter.
— Rabia Gursoy ’21