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USMMA Observes Sexual Assault Awareness Month

KINGS POINT, N.Y., May 10, 2018 – April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and what a successful month it was!  Midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) were joined by faculty, staff, coaches, parents and alumni in leading the way toward positive culture change at the USMMA.

The month kicked off with a friendly session of team building field games that included Capture the Flag followed by a presentation of “Can I Kiss You”, in Delano Hall by Mike Domritz, who leads a nationally recognized campaign dedicated to educating young men and women.  He spoke on what a healthy relationship looks like and what it means to be an active bystander.  A community advocate from the Nassau County rape crisis center, The Safe Center LI Inc., was present and shared additional information.  The evening was topped-off with a steak dinner that was enjoyed by all who attended.

On April 9th, guest speaker Antuan Raimone, a current cast member in the world-renowned Broadway show, Hamilton, gave a talk on “Supporting Male Survivors.” He shared his personal story and explained how important this seldom-talked about topic really is.  He then led a question and answer session for faculty, staff and students.

On April 10th, Midshipmen viewed the movie The Invisible War, which addresses sexual assault in the Armed Forces.  Midshipmen planning to commission as active duty officers attended this screening, as well as others who had interest.  There was a panel after the movie to facilitate discussion and lessons learned from the movie.  The panel included active duty members, LT Will Sprouse, Capt. Pat Scappaticcio, and LT Andrew Baransky, as well as Michelle Underwood, the Academy Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and RADM James Helis, Superintendent.  All were actively engaged and sparked productive conversation centered around how students can prevent sexual assault in their sphere of influence not only as Midshipmen but also as young officers joining commands throughout the Armed Forces.

On the afternoon of April 19th, the parents led the way on a SAAM themed Cookie Café in Land Hall.  The parents wore SAAM shirts and donated home baked SAAM-themed cookies.  Parents also helped students build “Fear 2 Freedom Kits.” These kits consist of clean under garments, sweatpants, T-shirt, toiletries, toothbrush, toothpaste and an encouraging note of support for victims of sexual assault receiving forensic, medical, and other support services.  They are meant to bring comfort to victims of sexual assault.  In total sixty kits were built, with 15 donated to Northwell Health and the remainder to The Safe Center LI Inc., the Nassau County rape crisis center on Long Island. On April 26th, the SARC, coordinated a special field trip for Volunteer Victim Advocates (VVA), and Midshipmen to deliver the kits to Northwell.

On April 23rd and 24th, LT. Col. Kevin Basik (USAF, retired) hosted culture-shifting workshops.  He addressed leadership from a moral perspective, explaining that everyone can control their own sphere of influence and that leadership comes from the grassroots level.  He challenged the Midshipmen to step into the leadership role they desire.  The following day, Dr. Basik met with the entire faculty and staff to have a leadership discussion.  He focused on the effects faculty and staff have on students as well as what it means to lead by example.

April 28th was the SAAM finale.  A mix of faculty, staff, Midshipmen, and parents turned out for the SAAM 5K Fun Run.  Afterward, the run participants enjoyed smoothies and music provided by Midshipman Christian Wittendorf, who served as the event disc jockey.

LT Andrew Baransky, Strategic Sealift Officer, SARC Liaison, said, “This was a busy month of events, activities and powerful speakers.  However, it was only one month out of the year.  We must utilize this momentum and allow the lessons learned to drive leadership and culture in a direction that is beneficial for the Kings Point community.  Together, we keep moving forward.  Together, we build.  Together, we are Kings Point!”

Please click the following link to see SAAM Photos

Updated: Thursday, May 10, 2018
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