Candlelight Ceremony Honors Alex Kogut

Rachelle Ehrman

The month of October is well known as Breast Cancer Aware-ness Month, but it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On Wednesday, October 17, a small group gathered outside the Chapel to hold a candlelight vigil for a New Hartford resident, Alex Kogut, who died as a result of domestic violence. Kogut, a first-year at the State University of New York at Brockport, was killed on September 29 by her older high school boyfriend Clay-ton Whittemore, a student at Utica College. Whittemore had driven to Brockport to visit his girlfriend when he once again turned violent with her. Her final moments were shared with the world through her Twit-ter feed when she posted “Should’ve known” just hours before her death. In memory of her tragic death, students active in the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) organized a remembrance ceremony. “We wanted to hold the vigil to honor her, and show our support to her family and friends,” se-nior Rebecca Raudabaugh said. “We need to end the silence. Too often bruises get covered up, and statistically it takes seven assaults before someone leaves an abusive partner and awareness is key for this cycle to end.” During the vigil, Raudabaugh read a poem aloud entitled Remember My Name, by Kimberly A. Collins, the founder of So Others Ascend Rightoulsy (SOAR). The poem is inspired by the women that Col-lins met as part of her work with domestic violence victims. As part of the efforts of the Shine the Light Domestic Violence Campaign, the lights of the chapel cupula have been switched with colored bulbs so that it now glows purple every night. Students are also painting their pinky fingers purple as part of the “pinky promises” to end domestic violence against women. “The color purple represents the courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending domestic violence,” said Colleen Nassimos, a COVE staff advisor. “It has a long history of being used as a sym-bol by women seeking justice …The tradition continues today” Purple was also Alex Kogut’s favorite color, furthering the significance of this effort. “There are bracelets for her, at the COVE, Women’s Studies and Case, where you can also make a donation to a scholarship in her name,” Raudabaugh said. Students who are interested can make donations using the ‘Gate cards until the end of the month. “My hope is that students will realize that the issue of domestic violence is relevant to them and that the death of Alexandra Kogut was not an isolated incident,” Nassimos said. “Domestic violence affects us all.” “This could have just as easily happened at Colgate. I hope that people will learn from her story, that it isn’t just a ‘one-time thing’ but that this happens way to often,” Raudabaugh said. “The pictures of her going out, hanging out with friends–they could have been my photos. The first time I saw them I thought, ‘I’ve taken this photo.'”

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