Trigger Warning: Mentions of Sexual Assault and Other Sensitive Matters
“The Clothesline Project”, which is put together by the Office of Health Promotion (OHP), aims to honor and share the stories and experiences of survivors of sexual assault and abuse on the campus.
The project is on display October 18-29 and is located on the first floor of the John J. Hemmingson Center near the stairs near the reception desk.
The idea was originally proposed by Katie Aguirre, a student employed at OHP. The project was inspired by Utah Valley University because the school does something similar each year for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Aguirre and other student employees helped organize the collection and display.
T-shirts with handwriting detailing the anonymous stories of students, staff and loved ones are shown. In addition, there are three pedestals with statistics and resources relating to sexual assault and other forms of abuse.
Students and staff were able to share the stories of themselves or their loved ones via repository, social media and an anonymous submission form throughout the first weeks of October. The student employees then transcribed the anonymous submission forms onto the folders.
Shirts come in a variety of different colors, with each color representing a different form of assault or abuse. These include intimate partner domestic violence, childhood abuse, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and domestic violence based on a person’s identity, such as referral sexual, physical or mental disability, among others.
OHP staff member Bethany Hickey was heavily involved in the process and worked with the student employees to help set it up.
“The main objective of the clothesline project is to raise awareness of the impact of violence on the Zag community by sharing the stories of survivors,” Hickey said. “The purpose of this is to show that violence exists in our community and that it often has an isolating effect. ”
Sexual assault is rampant on most college campuses. According to one of the pedestals titled “Statistics on Intimate Partner Violence,” 1 in 3 students have been assaulted by an intimate partner.
The statistics also address how sexual assault and abuse disproportionately affects women of color and members of the LGBTQ community more. According to the display, women of color are twice as likely as white women to be victims of domestic violence.
“44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women [having] have experienced rape, physical violence and / or harassment by an intimate partner at some point in their life, compared to 35% of heterosexual women, ”the display reads.
Makayla Garcia, senior, works at reception in Hemmingson, so she sees student traffic entering the building. She normally works in the morning, but has recently been scheduled to work later on Tuesday.
On average, 10 to 20 students stop by during their shift to look at statistics, read shirts, and even take pictures.
“I didn’t really engage with [the display], I just saw what shirts are and then people stop and take pictures, so I guess that’s something that’s controversial and makes people curious, ”Garcia said.
The main goal of The Clothesline Project is to bring a new level of awareness of violence to college campuses, especially GU. Students and staff are encouraged to take the time to listen to the stories of those who have experienced some form of violence and to educate themselves so that in the future they will feel empowered to express themselves and to act.
“We all have a role to play in preventing damage in our community,” Hickey said. “So while some topics may be difficult to discuss, I think not talking about them only allows the bad things to continue. An open discussion about difficult topics such as violence can help students and staff feel more confident to intervene if or when this situation arises.
“I hope that students and staff who are feeling the impact of the violence can look at the display and see that they are not alone, and for those of us who are fortunate enough to have never been affected by violence, ”Hickey said. “I hope this will spark some desire for action.”
If students or staff need support, there are a variety of resources available on campus that they can access.
For immediate emergencies, campus security is available. On-Campus Advocate, a partnership between GU and Lutheran Community Services, supports students who have experienced sexual assault and other forms of violence. Health and counseling services and the Center for Cura Personalis are also available for all students in difficulty, who need additional support or who are facing violence in their life.
Sophia McKinstry is a writer. Follow her on Twitter: @sophvmckinstry.