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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Bullied ‘Stand Up’ to bullying

    Peter Cohen died Nov. 14, 2000, after defending an employee who was being bullied.

    In March 2011, his son, Ben Cohen, a former English rugby player, founded the StandUp Foundation in memory of his father and formed the “world’s first foundation dedicated to raising awareness of the long-term damaging effects of bullying,” according to the foundation’s website.

    And on Nov. 14, 2011, 11 years after Cohen’s death, the undergraduate college of Arts, Culture and Humanities and Stony Brook’s StandUp Charter hosted an event for National “Stand Up Against Bullying” Day in the Black Box Theater of the Tabler Arts Center.

    As students, staff and faculty entered the Black Box Theater in the Tabler Arts Center on Monday night, they each received a different colored piece of paper. In a few minutes, they would learn that this identified them as a different kind of victim of bullying.

    Each color represented a different story. As each story was read, the people who had that story’s color card stood up. By the end of the interactive demonstration, everyone in the room was standing up.

    “We were trying to get across that bullying can happen to anyone,” said Jeremy Marchese, the ACH college adviser and the founder of the StandUp Charter at Stony Brook.

    “It made me feel emotional because when I was little, people passed judgments,” said James Fishon, 18, a psychology major and member of the Stony Brook StandUp Charter.

    The StandUp Charter is part of a group of 25 Stony Brook students who are bringing the message to stand up by trying to get students to sign their “Commitment to End Bullying and Homophobia” petition posted on ACH’s website.

    At the event, there was a table with the stories and names of victims of bullying who had been killed, had committed suicide or had been victims of homophobic bullying. In the middle of the table, there was a laptop opened up to StandUp’s petition, which now has 675 signatures.

    Marchese says he hopes they get 1,000 signatures by the end of spring semester.

    Only a month and half ago, Marchese decided he wanted to form a group of students dedicated to this cause inspired by Ben Cohen’s StandUp Foundation.

    On Monday night, Marchese surprised the organizers and the rest of the people at the event with a video message straight from Ben Cohen.

    “I am expecting to hear great things about the progress of the Stand Up Charter at Stony Brook,” said Cohen in his video message.

    The crowd of 102 students was surprised to hear Ben Cohen had heard of Stony Brook’s Stand Up Charter, but Marchese had actually been in contact with organizers of Ben Cohen’s StandUp Foundation since he started the group.

    “The foundation is asking for bi-weekly updates so they can stay on top of our charter,” said Marchese.

    Other organizers of the group were also pleased with the event’s success.

    After the event, Luke Fontana, the treasurer of the StandUp Charter and an ACH fellow, posted a video on YouTube felt inspired to announce that was inspired to stand up after a bullying incident 10 years ago.

    “Stand up against bullying because you can no longer sit down and watch,” said Fontana.

    The group’s president, Danielle Barbato, 19, was pleased with the success of the event.

    “It really surpassed our expectations and set a standard for what we hope to do in the future,” said Barbato.

    In the near future, the Charter hopes to hang figurines of blue men with the names of people who were at the event in support of its anti-bullying message. The 100 blue figurines were signed at the event and will hopefully be displayed on the SAC lobby windows according to Jocelyn Pascucci, 18, a member of the StandUp Charter.

    As each person left the event, they got a rose with inspirational messages like, “You have the right to be yourself.”

    “If someone doesn’t stand up, nobody will,” said Taylor Knepper, 19, an English major and event coordinator for the StandUp Charter.

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