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#JustAsk Campaign Aims to Facilitate a Campus-wide Conversation about Sexual Violence Prevention

Campaign Launch Sets Stage for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

ALBANY, NY (September 30, 2015) -- In solidarity with faculty, staff and students across its three campuses, the University at Albany today launched its #JustAsk Campaign, designed to raise awareness about sexual violence and the University’s array of prevention education efforts, as well as facilitate a campus-wide conversation about this critical issue affecting college campuses nationwide.

#JustAsk aims to challenge and educate students, faculty, and staff to become part of the larger solution, urging the campus community to just ask:

• How to get involved in raising awareness
• For consent in sexual interactions
• How to intervene as a bystander – asking if your friend, or even a stranger, is okay
• How to obtain support in the aftermath of sexual violence:
What are your bill of rights?
What resources are available on- or off-campus?

“The University at Albany is committed to an environment that is safe, secure, and free from sexual misconduct of any kind,” said UAlbany President Robert J. Jones. “We are very proud of the progress we have made in this arena, yet we recognize there is still work to be done.”

At the #JustAsk launch, the UAlbany community came together to sign a “step and repeat” pledge banner and then help spread the University’s message by sharing across social media with the hashtag #JustAsk.

In addition, University groups including The Advocacy for Sexual Violence, Project SHAPE: Sexual Health and Peer Education, MVP (Mentors in Violence Prevention), the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program, the GSRC (Gender and Sexuality Resource Center), and UAlbany Triota: Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Honor Society, were on hand to share information about the wide variety of services and information available to the campus community.

“There is an electricity on our campus surrounding this issue; students, faculty, staff and administrators are aware of the national statistics and we are appalled," said Chantelle Cleary, the University's Title IX coordinator. "This campaign was a collaborative manifestation of that energy. Our hope is that the unification of our community through Just Ask will be the first step in realizing our collective desire for change.”

View an official photo gallery from the #JustAsk launch.

#JustAsk Sets the Stage for Domestic Violence Awareness Month
The #JustAsk launch helps set the stage for the national Domestic Violence Awareness Month observance which begins on October 1. The University at Albany has a full slate of programming planned to help raise awareness about preventing domestic violence.

On October 29, UAlbany will pay tribute to one of their young alumna, Sunny Kim, a former international student woman who was murdered in South Korea by her boyfriend in the spring of 2015. UAlbany will remember Sunny at its “10 Points of Light” event which is designed to celebrate hope and healing for victims of domestic violence. Chosen as only one of 10 campuses nationwide by the Take Back the Night Foundation to host the event, Kappa Phi Lambda, the sorority that Sunny was a member of, will lead the tribute.

In addition, on October 14, at Page Hall on the Downtown Campus, the University will present a viewing of “The Mask You Live In,” a compelling look at how our culture's narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.

On October 5, the University will welcome members of Capital District agencies who support victims of sexual violence to participate in “Vicarious Trauma Training.” The interactive training will explore self-care techniques as well as strategies managers can use to help ensure balance and self-care for those that they supervise. The training is designed to help professionals recognize the symptoms of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma, develop resilience and healthy coping skills, and create a professional and personal care plan to minimize the risk of compassion fatigue in their work.

Preventing Sexual Violence
The #JustAsk initiative is just the latest in the University's efforts to educate, mitigate and eliminate sexual violence on campus. In early 2014, UAlbany opened The Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence, to provide a safe and welcoming environment for students to receive support and advocacy services in the aftermath of sexual violence. This Center, which is the first of its kind in the SUNY system, offers victim/survivors of sexual misconduct including sexual assault, intimate partner violence or stalking a single location in which they can receive services.

During the fall of 2014, Carol Stenger, director of the University's Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence, worked closely with other members of the larger SUNY community and beyond to develop a uniform sexual violence prevention and response policy. The policy has since been extended for adoption to private universities across New York. In addition, UAlbany adopted and immediately implemented a Student Bill of Rights, which was recently enhanced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and is displayed throughout the University campus for added awareness.

"All of us have a role to play in preventing sexual violence and this campaign is the foundation of our efforts moving forward. President Obama has laid the framework when he states 'It’s on us,' and UAlbany is following that with 'Just Ask' how you can make a difference," said Stenger, the director of the Advocacy Center.

The University also continually reviews its student code of conduct, Community Rights and Responsibilities, to ensure the policy reflects our expectations for student behavior. These changes aim to refine the process by which cases involving students accused of sexual misconduct are investigated and adjudicated.

A Full-Time Commitment
In January 2015, UAlbany appointed Chantelle Cleary as the University’s full-time Title IX Coordinator. She is responsible for ensuring that the University carefully complies with all statutory requirements in investigating and reporting all complaints of sexual violence on campus, as well as leading campus-wide educational efforts to prevent sexual violence and promote a safe and healthy learning and work environment for all.

Cleary is an attorney with experience in the District Attorney’s Offices of Albany, Clinton and New York counties. During her tenure in Clinton County, she handled many of the cases involving sexual assaults and domestic violence. While working in Albany County, she advanced to senior trial attorney assigned to the Special Victims Unit, and exclusively prosecuted those types of cases.

Upon her arrival, the University created a dedicated Title IX website, which provides essential information to victim/survivors about services available, reporting options, and their rights in the wake of victimization. This website also offers information regarding support for students accused of sexual misconduct. Finally, for our faculty and staff who have received a report of sexual misconduct, the website provides critical information about their rights and obligations under federal and state law and policy. This critical information is also available to the campus community on its UAlbany Alert emergency web pages and via its mobile app.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.