OSWEGO — The SUNY Council of Student Affairs Officers’ top annual awards recently went to groundbreaking SUNY Oswego programs designed to shift campus culture in reporting and response to sexual violence and to build respect for those of different races and ethnicities.
A program titled “Creating a Culture of Reporting and Response: A Collaborative Approach” led by Lisa Evaneski, Title IX coordinator for the college, won the council’s Outstanding Student Affairs Program Award in the category of violence education and prevention, crisis management, campus security and related programs.
The college’s multifaceted “I Am Oz” campaign won a similar honor in the international, multicultural, gender, LGBTQ, spirituality, disability and related programs category.
The Title IX Committee initially targeted student affairs staff and student organization leaders for information sessions on sexual harassment, sexual assault and consent, then expanded it to many constituencies across campus, reaching thousands of students and employees.
The program has since added components during new student orientation, through the Lifestyles Center’s peer educator outreach and by improving the college’s relationship with Oswego County resources such as Services to Aid Families’ rape crisis center and the Domestic Violence Coalition.
SUNY Oswego’s program has been adopted as SUNY-wide best practice, and Evaneski has made many presentations at the regional and national levels.
The SUNY council’s award was given for all of the “I Am Oz” events the past year including orientation, federal heritage months’ programming, the I Am Oz poster campaign and Shine the Light on Oz, according to Dan Roberts, Diversity and Inclusion Committee member and coordinator of new student orientation.
The program encourages mutual respect through meaningful conversation and understanding of cultural and other differences in regard to race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion and socioeconomic circumstances.
The cross-campus Diversity and Inclusion Committee has tackled such projects as diversity training for leaders of student organizations and resident assistants and staff; the ongoing “I Am Oz” poster campaign; and expanded efforts to encourage dialogue during the annual student-spearheaded Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month celebrations, including appearances by actor Hill Harper and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas Blackmon. Jerald Woolfolk, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, recently was named interim chief diversity officer for the college.
In the same competition, the Student Association-led inaugural observance of OzFest won honorable mention.
The last-day-of-class spring celebration, an alternative to the Bridge Street Run pub crawl, drew students by the hundreds to the center of campus for music, games, thrill rides, refreshments and an evening concert.