continued Kearney said she felt that bringing the issue of dating violence and healthy relationships to the forefront was something that had to be done to serve the student population.
“I think our mission is to care for the whole student, mind, body and spirit,” she said. “We educate them in the classroom, but education goes way beyond that. It goes beyond making sure they get their degree. We as a community have to support them in healthy development and lifelong lifestyle skills and values and self-respect. Beyond that, it’s a public health issue now. We know that we’re not in an ivory tower in a bubble. These issues affect our students. We have an obligation to respond and to try to prevent it.”
Students and staff at Onondaga Community College have a close working relationship with Vera House, according to Laura Lewin, program coordinator in student development. That relationship contributes to a heightened sensibility toward issues pertaining to intimate partner violence. The college participates in Take Back the Night rallies, held to protest rape and sexual violence; Lewin said the college’s male and female athletes are heavily involved.
OCC also takes part in the Clothesline Project. The project provides a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a T-shirt. They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.
“Those hang in our Gordon Center for about a week,” Lewin said. “That’s a great initiative.”
In addition, this spring, the college will host a Healthy Relationships Week.
“Students sign a pledge to remain in a healthy relationship, and that goes for their family and friends, too,” Lewin said. “If you see something bad happening, you can learn healthy, safe ways to intervene.”