Above: VP for Student Development Dr. Anne Hopkins Gross (second from left) and SUNY’s Joseph Storch (center) are among those who posed after filling a milestone bag

It began in 2016, with the goal of filling 2,016 bags. The mission: to create comfort kits, designed for victims and survivors of violence, and to educate on prevention and response strategies. Tuesday afternoon at SUNY Cobleskill, the “SUNY’s Got Your Back” team and members of the campus community filled bag number 50,000.

Propelled by Fighting Tiger student athletes from each of the College’s varsity teams, the Office of Student Leadership, members of President Terenzio’s cabinet, and representatives from the SUNY system, completed bags filled with personal care items continued to accumulate in Bouck Ballroom well after reaching 50,000 bags. Many of SUNY’s 64 campuses have previously hosted, or have schedule a day devoted to the campaign. In true SUNY Cobleskill style, Coby’s turn was characterized by a steady stream of students, faculty, and staff eager to contribute to a meaningful cause and learn more about how to help.

Bag assemblage began at 11, though not before SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson issued a release announcing the “SUNY’s Got Your Back” team had arrived on campus, and was likely to fill a milestone bag. Chancellor Johnson also put out a Tweet to mark the start of the day, saying the initiative “sets a national standard for universities and organizations alike on how to raise awareness on the importance of ending sexual assault and domestic violence.” Back on campus, those who arrived early to help organize the Ballroom included Assistant Director of Student Leadership Mike Wacksman, Associate Professor Barbara Brabetz, Director of Campus Engagement Matthew Barney, and Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action Lynn Berger.

President Terenzio aligned the day’s mission and vision to that of the College. “At SUNY Cobleskill, our heart is as big as our mission, and we are passionate about putting theory into action,” says President Terenzio. “Our vision calls for us to grow, to sustain, and to renew the world and its citizens, most profoundly, for those in need. We are proud to be part of “SUNY’s Got Your Back.”

On hand and helping complete the 50,000th bag from SUNY was Chair of the Student Affairs Practice Group and Associate Counsel Joseph Storch. Storch has coordinated “SUNY’s Got Your Back” since its creation in 2016, and says reaching 50,000 bags is an inspiring feat.

“What I always say is that ‘our goal was to reach 2,016,’” says Storch, upon helping fill the bag surpassing his initial goal by 47,984 bags. “We are here because of our students, and it is because of campuses like SUNY Cobleskill that we have reached this number and are able to continue.”  In addition to Storch, SUNY Cobleskill Vice President for Student Development Dr. Anne Hopkins Gross, Coby T. Tiger, and a team from SUNY helped fill the 50,000th bag.

It is a fitting time of year for the program to make its way to SUNY Cobleskill. The Winter 2019 Semester began with a full day of service, in honor and celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in March students completed a successful community project over spring break. As part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III Week, in which all SUNY Cobleskill Fighting Tiger programs are participating, student-athletes are committing to taking on a leading role in service projects throughout the week of March 31, including in Tuesday’s “SUNY’s Got Your Back” event.

“The range of campus community members who are here today speaks to SUNY’s Cobleskill’s commitment to supporting powerful initiatives,” says Dr. Hopkins Gross. “We embrace the chance to participate and help reach this milestone with our SUNY friends and colleagues.”

“SUNY’s Got Your Back” is scheduled for 14 additional SUNY schools this month. For program information, visit https://www.suny.edu/gotyourback/.