SUNY Cortland, JM Murray Center partner to assist victims of domestic violence

The following is a republished press release from SUNY Cortland and not an article written by The Cortland Voice … to submit a community announcement, press release or information about an upcoming event, email Peter Blanchard at [email protected].

Victims of sexual and interpersonal violence often need to leave unsafe situations quickly, heading to local rape crisis and domestic violence shelters with just the clothes on their backs. A new SUNY system-wide effort will provide them important resources and personal care items, thanks to a major assist from SUNY Cortland and a local employer.

“SUNY’s Got Your Back,” a project led by the system’s Title IX Coordinators Association and announced by Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher on Monday, offers victims “comfort bags” — essentially backpacks that include crucial information and other necessary items, such as a toothbrush, soap and shampoo. All 2,500 hygiene kits in those bags were donated by J.M. Murray, a local manufacturing and packaging company that utilizes the skills of people with disabilities.

“We’re a brand new organization of Title IX coordinators and as we kicked off, we wanted to launch a project that gives back to our different communities throughout New York state,” said SUNY Cortland Title IX Coordinator Nan Pasquarello, an executive board member of the SUNY Title IX Coordinators Association (STIXCA). “J.M. Murray really stepped up by providing the starter products for every single bag in the SUNY system.”

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SUNY is partnering with the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) and the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) on the project.

The initial goal was to provide 2,016 backpacks during the 2016-17 academic year from SUNY campuses to local rape crisis and domestic violence programs such as the YWCA Aid to Victims of Violence in Cortland. Pasquarello initially approached J.M. Murray about providing a single item for the bags, but the company offered to provide a small package with several personal care supplies.

Each comfort bag also will come with a card with key resources listed on it as well as “personal touch” items from each campus that students will help prepare, Pasquarello noted. Some bags might include crayons and coloring books for victims with children.

“This is a way of giving back to those rape crisis and domestic violence programs that are available to our students if they need them,” Pasquarello said. “It’s to let people know that we care and that they’re not alone.”

Last fall, SUNY unveiled two web-based tools to support victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, whether the victim attends a SUNY school or lives in a nearby community. The first resource is a mobile website — SUNY Sexual Assault & Violence Resource (SAVR)— which lists all of the resources and contact information available by SUNY campus or zip code. The second is a multi-lingual resource — Visa and Immigration Resource for Colleges and Universities — which colleges and universities can customize to share critical information with international students in their native language.

For more information about “SUNY’s Got Your Back,” visit the project’s webpage.

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