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AU Attends White House PSA Launch

OCL VP Gail Hanson, athletics director Keith Gill, and student-athletes with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Photo Credit: Pamela Deese/Jeff Watts.

AU is often there from the beginning.

Whether it’s in founding Washington DC’S first Lion’s Club chapter, signing a sustainability commitment with the mayor of the nation’s capital, or welcoming key political figures to speak on campus, the university keeps itself in the middle of many of today’s major happenings.

“We get to be there in the moment,” says vice president of Campus Life Dr. Gail Hanson.

Just last Thursday, Dr. Hanson, director of athletics and recreation Keith Gill, and several AU student-athletes found themselves at the center of another key moment, as the group attended the White House’s launch of a new public service announcement for its 1 is 2 Many initiative.

Under Vice President Joe Biden, the program – aimed at strengthening efforts to reduce dating violence again teens and young women – has incorporated professional athletes as spokesmen to spread a message of respect and nonviolence. The Vice President and his top advisers were on hand to speak about the new PSA, the program, and how professional and college athletes alike can help.

AU wrestler Corey Borshoff joined fellow AU Eagle athletes Jordan Manley, Tatum Dyer, and Arron Zimmerman for the event. Borshoff found the PSA launch particularly impactful, as it reinforced his sense of responsibility as a student-athlete.

“It was an awareness-raising event for me,” he says. “Part of our responsibility as student-athletes is to show the upcoming generation how to carry themselves with the utmost integrity from home, to work, to their social lives and hobbies. I hope the values we share as athletes resonate with others outside athletics to help end dating violence and the like.”

The PSA, which features sports figures from Eli Manning and David Beckham to Joe Torre and Jeremy Lin, will air on AU’s FourWinds television monitors across the university in the fall. With a group of respected student-athletes and an already strong nonviolence presence on campus in the Green Dot movement, AU is the ideal place for the 1 is 2 Many initiative to take root.

“We certainly know with Green Dot that athletes are an important population. There are people that look up to them,” says Dr. Hanson, noting AU student-athletes leading by example with Green Dot. “They’re supposed to be institutional role models. We hope that other students will follow their lead…that if they take a strong stance on this, other students will see it as an important thing to do.”

Aside from the positive message the group took home, Dr. Hanson was happy to see AU students enjoying the benefits of studying in DC – the classroom beyond the campus, where these student-athletes were able to engage with Vice President Biden and see executive government programs in action.

“None of our students had ever met the Vice President,” she says. “He was very generous with his time. He stayed after the announcement and talked with everyone in the room, had pictures taken with them. He asked them about their sport, where they’re from.”

Just like with many of the other high-profile events AU students attend throughout the District of Columbia, this experience and its larger message will always stick with these student-athletes. It’s part of the well-rounded education that allows AU wonks to go out into the world after graduation and make a difference.

“It was a memorable occasion for [the students],” Dr. Hanson confirms, “and because of that I think they’ll pick up the message and do something with it.”