October 7, 2014
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Union College's National Championship Hockey Team to Raise Awareness to Stop Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Governor Cuomo Announces Union College's National Championship Hockey Team to Raise Awareness to Stop Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Lieutenant Governor Duffy Joins Student Leaders, Athletes as They Challenge Their Peers on Campus and Division I and Division III Athletic Rivals to do Their Part to Make a Difference

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the national championship Union College Men’s Hockey team and other student leaders are challenging 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. Students urged peers and rivals to join them in taking the national “It’s On Us” pledge and will distribute bracelets on campus that include the State's toll-free domestic violence and sexual assault hotline number, and the College will continue to train members of the campus community to intervene in potentially unsafe situations.

“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,” Governor 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.”

Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy joined Union College President Stephen C. Ainlay this afternoon as student leaders and athletes issued the challenge during a press conference at the Nott Memorial on Union College’s campus in Schenectady. The Lieutenant Governor outlined recent actions by Governor Cuomo and the State that help support the students’ challenge and College’s efforts. Governor Cuomo additionally proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in New York State, which coincides with a national month-long observance.

“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,” Lieutenant Governor 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.”

Union College President Stephen C. Ainlay said, “At Union College, we fully accept the spirit and letter of Title IX and as a campus community, take our responsibility very seriously. All of our students should have a college experience free of assault, harassment and violence. There is no place at Union College for anything less.”

The Men’s Hockey team plans to wear shoelaces or other items that are purple or teal during games, which are the colors associated with domestic violence and sexual assault, distribute purple and teal silicone bracelets, and make announcements about their commitment at games and to urge fans to take the “It’s On Us” pledge. The Women’s Hockey team, other athletic teams and campus groups also will engage in similar activities to raise awareness at their games and events throughout the course of the academic year.

The Men’s Hockey team recently became the first team at Union College 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. The College also will train athletes and student leaders from Greek organizations and other campus groups in Bystander Intervention throughout the academic year.

In addition, Union College students Shayna Han ’15 and Sebastien Gingras ’16 urged peers on campus and athletic rivals across the state and nation to join them in taking the national “It’s On Us” pledge, which is a personal commitment to help and keep women and men safe from sexual assault. The national campaign is supported by 40 partners ranging from the NCAA and the U.S. Olympic Committee to MTV and the American Association of University Women.

Han, a senior history major with Chinese and political science minors, is a founding member of the College’s student-led Committee on Consent Education and Awareness. Gingras, a junior who is pursuing studies in neuroscience, is a member of the national championship hockey team.

The Committee on Consent Education and Awareness just concluded a series of events as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Week, which featured lectures, self-defense training and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, in which male students donned high heels to call attention to the issue of domestic violence.

The Lieutenant Governor highlighted the State’s efforts to raise awareness, and prevent and combat sexual assault and domestic violence, including:

  • SUNY’s commitment to implement a comprehensive, system-wide uniform set of practices to combat sexual assault on its 64 campuses, as announced last week by Governor Cuomo.
  • The Shine the Light campaign, which promotes the use of the color purple in creative ways throughout October to raise awareness. The Lieutenant Governor asked all New Yorkers to join him in supporting that campaign by wearing purple on Wednesday, October 15.
  • The use of social media featuring the hashtags #shinethelight and #dontdonothing. “Don’t Do Nothing” is the theme of a State-produced domestic violence awareness and intervention video series that can be viewed here.
  • Bracelets will be distributed on the Union College campus, with both hashtags, as well as the State’s 24-hour Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline number (800-942-6906), printed on them.
  • The State’s recent expansion of the number of victims’ assistance programs to which it provides funding – from 186 to 230 – to ensure crime victims in each of the New York State’s 62 counties have access to services. Many of those programs provide direct services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

About Union College

Founded in 1795, Union College was the first college chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York. A residential, independent liberal arts college of 2,200 undergraduates, Union is committed to integrating the humanities and social sciences with science and engineering in a diverse, welcoming campus environment. Union’s curriculum emphasizes collaboration with students and faculty through small classes and undergraduate research, an international experience in all disciplines, and learning through service to the campus and community. The College’s unique Minerva program connects academic, social and cultural life through meaningful interaction with faculty, prominent speakers and special guests.

About the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence provides guidance to Executive staff on policy and legislation, conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs, and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement and health care. More information is available here.

About the Office of Victim Services

The Office of Victim Services provides a safety net for innocent crime victims who have no other place to turn for help, providing direct compensation for counseling, advocacy services and medical care. The Office of Victim Services funds 230 victims’ assistance programs across the New York State, while operating at no cost to taxpayers; it is funded by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders after conviction in State or Federal court. More information is available here.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

NYC Press Office:  212.681.4640

Albany Press Office:  518.474.8418