You Are Not Alone week inspires, and encourages students

You+Are+Not+Alone+week+inspires%2C+and+encourages+students

Andreya Matthew '14, Staff Writer

Last week, students and faculty focused on bringing a lasting awareness of the importance of supporting one another in the Le Moyne College community and appreciating each other’s differences. It was Le Moyne’s fourth annual You Are Not Alone [YANA] week.

YANA is a week-long campaign, originally started at Le Moyne in response to the suicide of a freshman at Rutgers University. According to www.nj.com, freshman Tyler Clementi’s suicide was a result of humiliation and bullying for his sexual orientation. In an effort to protect all of their students from that harm, the Le Moyne community expanded YANA to stand for anti-bullying, no matter the insult.

“A lot of people have this misconception that YANA is only for the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community, but that’s not the case,” Amelia Hoffman, area director of Nelligan Hall, Mitchell Hall and the Townhouses, said. “Bullying affects everyone.”

“Too often in my office students come in and say ‘I feel like I’m the only one going through this,’” Hoffman added.

To diminish that feeling of loneliness and make students realize they, indeed, are not alone, the week included activities to emphasize care and encouragement.

The awareness fair by the Health and Wellness Center and the Office of Academic Advising and Support provided students with different opportunities. Additionally, there was the “Dear Le Moyne” project outside the cafeteria. Students were encouraged to stop by and anonymously share a personal encounter they or someone they know had with bullying or discrimination. Some students even shared positive messages as well.

In addition to these positive messages outside the cafeteria, the quad’s sidewalks were chalked-full of encouraging messages. The club, Pride in Our Work, Ethnicity and Race [P.O.W.E.R.] also filled the tunnel connecting the Coyne Science Center and Grewen hall with positive Post-It notes conveying messages to support YANA week.

Meanwhile, during the midweek several students and faculty attended a talk by Dr. Maura Cullen, author of “35 Dumb Things Well Intended People Say.” Cullen focused on numerous issues such as how to approach diversity in an appropriate way, how the smallest thing, like saying hi to someone, can make a difference in their life, along with other advice. Cullen also shared her personal story during her talk.

Following this talk about diversity was a diversity summit led by Hoffman and sponsored by Creating Awareness and Reaching Equality [C.A.R.E.], P.O.W.E.R. and El Progresso. Students discussed why diversity is important and worked to understand one another’s views.

Junior Michelle Mitchell said, “I think it was very eye-opening. I think it was really good to hear from everybody why they thought diversity is important and why it matters to them, and why it is important to the community as a whole.”

Hoffman presented several scenarios challenging bullying, discrimination and student’s ability to stand up for one another.

One of the students helping to facilitate this event was junior Katherine Bakhuizen, president of C.A.R.E.

“To me, YANA is learning about finding community with those who are similar and different, making sure that people understand that you are not alone…you are literally not alone, and that there’s always someone out there,” she said. “No matter how hard, or awful things may be in your life, there is always someone there to give you a helping hand.”

YANA week was wrapped up with a candlelight vigil on the quad on Friday, Sept. 13. The vigil was opened with the musical talents of the Le Moyne a capella group, Fermata Nowhere. Hoffman facilitated the vigil.