SUNY students pay tribute to Orlando shooting victims with blood drive

Student Assembly pushing for change

to federal blood donation policies

 

More than 30 members of the SUNY family came together to donate blood and stand in solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex communities after the deadliest U.S. shooting in the recent history.

In cooperation with the American Red Cross, the Student Assembly of the State University of New York sponsored a blood drive in memory of the 50 innocent lives that were tragically lost during the June 12 massacre at the gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Fla.

Marc Cohen, SUNY Student Assembly president and trustee was thrilled with the success of the event.

“We had dozens of students, faculty and community members come out and say in a loud, clear voice, ‘We stand with the LGBT/MOGII community,’” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of a system that greatly values diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The total amount of blood donated during the event is enough to save up to 93 lives.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the victims’ loved ones, and we stand with members of our LGBT+ community as we recommit ourselves to diversity, inclusion, tolerance and nonviolence,” said University at Albany president Robert Jones. “This effort is just one way to support those in need.”

Students from all over New York state came to show support and protest for change. Oswego undergraduate student and Student Assembly state operated campuses representative, Alex George, drove over two hours to the event. “I felt it was important to show my support, not only for this organization but [also] for the victims of the horrible tragedy in Orlando,” said George. “It was worth the drive from Syracuse to be apart of a great event like this.”

The event also sparked another movement creating awareness for blood donor equality. Today, members of the LGBT+ community are still prohibited from donating blood if they’ve been sexually active with same-sex partners within the past year. In October of 2014, the Student Assembly passed a resolution that demanded all local and national governments to allow all people to donate blood regardless of their sexual orientation and identification.

Last year, the FDA updated their policies concerning blood donation for the first time in nearly 30 years. The new regulations allow gay men and women to donate blood if and only if they have remained abstinent for the past year.

Cohen commented on the policy. “The science is there to support and allow for equal blood donation,” he said. “How sad is it that people were turned away from donating blood to support their loved ones because of whom they choose to love? It’s time for a change and the Student Assembly is glad to help in leading the charge.”

Student Assembly Chief of Staff, Nick Simmons, also agrees these new regulations just aren’t enough. “The FDA regulations change doesn’t solve this problem,” he said. “This is a fight that we will continue, as there is much more work to be done and the students of our system are committed to doing this work.”

In the last year alone, the Student Assembly has pushed for gender-neutral language within organizational documents and has passed resolutions advocating for greater gender inclusivity on SUNY campuses. Just last week, Cohen and SUNY chancellor, Nancy Zimpher, lead 300 students from the SUNY system in the annual New York City pride march.

I’m a 2017 graduate of SUNY New Paltz, where I studied digital media journalism and communications with a concentration in public relations. I consider myself to be more than a journalist or photographer, but a story-teller. My work has been published on a variety of media platforms, from The Daily Dot to The Norman Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies.

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