College at Brockport students rally to 'Take Back the Night'
Posted at: 10/23/2012 11:29 PM
By: Lynette Adams | WHEC.com
Students at the College at Brockport say it's time to 'Take Back the Night' and stop violence against women.
The rally is held every year, but this year's event held special significance.
Hundreds turned out Tuesday night for the annual 'Take Back the Night' rally dedicated to a freshman killed on campus less than a month ago.
Three weeks ago, Alexandra Kogut was found murdered in her dorm room. Some said she had a promising future. Kogut's boyfriend, Clayton Whittemore, is charged with murder in connection with her death.
Many students at the College at Brockport are not over this crime, and that added to the passion at the rally.
It started quietly as young women shared their stories of survival, but it didn't end that way. The sudents and then some visitors say it's time to stop the gender violence that claimed Kogut's life and threatens one out of every four women.
Rain forced the event indoors, but it didn't stop its power and effect – or the stories of students and alumni like Jamie Betteridge, who said “Some people think the abuse starts immediately, but that's not always the case. It was several months before the blame game started. Before that he was actually sweet and supportive.”
The students gathered in the College Union as part of an effort to stop violence against women, like what junior Brittney Helsdon says she experienced in a previous relationship. “One time I was slapped in the face because I didn't show him my phone,” she said. “One time I was punched in the arm because I wasn't playing his favorite video game good enough.”
Another student was too ashamed to share her story, so she had a friend read it for her.
But the issue of relationship violence is fresh on the minds of many students. It has been less than a month since freshman Alexandra Kogut's death.
The keynote speaker, MCC sociology professor and College at Brockport alum Christine Plumeri, says Kogut's death is about more than violence on a college campus, but rather systematic gender violence. “I didn't know Alex Kogut,” she said, “but I know hundreds, maybe thousands of young women her age everyday and I grieve her loss deeply. I can't begin to tell you how much it has affected me.”
Before the group headed outdoors to march around the village, the final speaker encouraged people to get angry about what happened to Kogut, saying “We need a moment of outrage at what's happening to us, to our daughters to Alex Kogut.”
Students in the social work department put the rally together. It culminated with a walk around campus and through Brockport. The group wanted to concentrate on bars in the area, saying the likelihood of violence is greater when people are drinking alcohol or abusing substances.