Students at Siena College are fed up with cyberbullying, and their efforts to fight it are getting noticed.

On Thursday. May 9, eight seniors from Siena College were issued an honorary proclamation from the New York State Senate, a gesture of thanks for the impact made from the college’s Upstander Program, which fights cyberbullying. 

Sen. Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany/District 44) presented the proclamation to the eight students and their faculty advisors at the Thursday morning ceremony at Siena. 

“This will be a special memory of your time at Siena,” said Sen. Breslin. “You took it upon yourselves to make a difference in the lives of others. Your work has touched so many students in our state, and it has planted the seeds to have those students in turn help make a difference for others.”

The Upstander Program is a collaborative effort between the Siena College Research Institute (SCRI), AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, all taking aim to eliminate cyberbullying at the high school level in New York.

The program was created in response to a 2016 survey — conducted by the Siena College Research Institute — that discovered 1 in 4 students in upstate New York fall victim to cyberbullying.

Since its inception, Siena students involved in the program —also called Upstander ambassadors — have visited 21 high schools across the state delivering workshops and presentations to student groups about the signs and methods of dealing with cyberbullying.

Marc Badalucco, one of the eight honorees, lost a close friend to suicide in high school because of cyberbullying.

“Ever since then, a lot of what I dedicated to this program and to my life has been to him,” he said. “Being able to work with the high school students, being able to share our stories and experiences, will forever stick with me.” 

Siena students presented with the proclamation were instrumental in the creation and implementation of the Upstander Program. Those noted in the proclamation included:

April Backus, Siena’s associate director of National Assessment for Service and Community Engagement, who spearheaded the creation of the entire program; and Siena’s graduating seniors: Nicholas Allen, Marc Badalucco, Kristina Dettori, Alyssa Lofaro, Emily Murphy, Emerald Power, Thomas Ruhl and Samuel Upson.

“As someone who has been bullied herself, I am so glad I had the opportunity to reach out to others,” Lofaro said. “I hope I showed the high school students that if you have been bullied, you are not alone.”