NYIT students at Bystander Training at the Bear’s Den on the Old Westbury campus.

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From Bystanders to Upstanders—Students Take Action Against Sexual Assault

December 2, 2016

In November, NYIT’s Inter-Fraternity Sorority Council (IFSC) hosted a screening of The Hunting Ground. The award-winning documentary directed by Kirby Dick focuses on sexual assaults on college campuses across the United States as well as, according to its creators, the failure of many college administrations to deal with the situations adequately. After the screening, students had the opportunity to sign up for Bystander Training. (Bystander training teaches students how to recognize the warning signs of sexual misconduct and the effective strategies to interrupt and prevent acts of sexual violence.)

“Sexual assault has been a disease infiltrating our schools across the nation. It hinders student productivity and development, and needs to be better monitored, controlled, and eventually eradicated,” said Amy Thomas, an NYIT student leader and programming chair of the IFSC.

“Amy wanted to bring The Hunting Ground to NYIT-Old Westbury because she knew that sexual violence is an important issue on college campuses today and she wanted to educate other students about it,” said Colvin Georges, Jr., assistant director of student involvement and leadership development, Campus Life and Student Affairs for Old Westbury.

Approximately 65 students gathered in the Student Activity Center’s Bear’s Dean for the screening. Afterwards, the group participated in group discussions. Joan O’Connor, senior counselor, Counseling and Wellness, and Cheryl Monticciolo, director, Compliance and Title IX coordinator, spoke to group about the resources provided at NYIT.

Reba Putorti, graduate assistant, Fraternity and Sorority Life; Gabrielle St. Léger; Diandra Macias, administrative assistant, Campus Life; and Colvin Georges, Jr.

Clockwise from left: Reba Putorti, graduate assistant, Fraternity and Sorority Life; Gabrielle St. Léger; Diandra Macias, administrative assistant, Campus Life; and Colvin Georges, Jr.

The screening was so inspirational that 30 students signed up for Bystander Training. Heather Stevenson from The Safe Center, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of child abuse and domestic abuse, led the training session.

“Students need to know how to react in certain situations. There needs to be a population of good, strong-willed people to step in and stop perpetrators from committing crimes,” said Georges.

Stevenson focused on dating violence, stalking, and sexual abuse, and went over the warning signs of potentially violent situations, what may cause some abusive relationships, and what to do under different circumstances.

At the end of the training, the students signed a pledge card and were given a teal ribbon (which is the color of sexual violence awareness) and a teal t-shirt that reads: “I am an Upstander.” The term signifies that the students are now no longer bystanders, but people who will stand up and do something. “It’s always better to be educated and proactive, than ill-informed and reactive. They now have the power to make a difference,” Georges said.
Not only did students sign up for Bystander Training, but they were also encouraged to sign up for the Sexual Assault Violence Prevention Working Group initiated by Dean of Campus Life for Old Westbury Gabrielle St. Léger, Ed.D. and lead by Cherly Monticciolo

“We value the staff and faculty members here at NYIT for being so open and supportive when we approached them about holding an event about such a ‘taboo’ subject,” said Thomas, a junior majoring in biology. “We are proud to say NYIT values its students and is dedicated to their safety and welfare well beyond just educating them.”

To learn more about sexual violence prevention at NYIT, contact Cheryl Monticciolo at 516.686.1080. To join the Sexual Assault Prevention Working Group, contact Gabrielle St. Léger at gstleger@nyit.edu. To learn more about The Safe Center visit their website; or call the hotline number: 516.542.0404.