Clothesline Project pays homage to domestic and sexual violence

Courtney Metcalf, staff writer

An on-campus exhibition helps students speak out against domestic and sexual violence.

“It’s okay to talk about it,” Caren Sempel, associate director for Interpersonal Violence Education at WAVES on sexual violence, said. “And that’s what the Clothesline event does: it creates a safe place for people to speak out.”

The Clothesline event is a national campaign to show support for domestic and sexual violence.

The office of Wellness, Alcohol, Violence and Education Services has hosted the Clothesline event for fifteen years.

“It is one of the biggest events for the Interpersonal Violence section of WAVES,” Sempel said.

Walking through campus by SUB 1 and the quad, onlookers can see the contrast of the stark white shirts and the colorful messages on them.

Freshman Madison Stroud noted that when she looked at the t-shirts, she “felt that it was good to see something so candid about the issue and not sugarcoating the idea of sexual violence.”

Even without personally knowing anyone affected by domestic or sexual violence, the exhibit still holds an impact.

“This event made me want to become an ally of this movement and made me interested to know more,” Stroud said.

The shirts had a visual and emotional impact on onlookers who walked through campus to look at them.

“It’s powerful to see the number of shirts, the number of stories and how people have been impacted by [The Clothesline Event],” Sempel added.

Among the people impacted is John Shea, sophomore peer advocate for WAVES.

“I grew up in a household where I was taught never to hit a woman,” Shea said.

Shea decided to become an ally to WAVES. He helped with the Clothesline event and educated onlookers about domestic violence while wearing his white ribbon symbolizing his pledge against sexual and domestic violence.

Many men on campus are involved with the cause.

“I don’t think men have the opportunity to be included in the conversation of domestic violence,” Sempel said..

Sophomore Michael Latimer added he appreciated the Turn off the Violence events because he feels that jokes regarding rape should not be made.

“It opens people’s eyes and allows them not to judge people, because you never know what others are going through,” Latimer argued.

Latimer hopes this event will bring awareness to situations that people often joke about.

“It’s not okay to joke about sexual violence,” Latimer said.

Sempel acknowledges how difficult it can be for some people to face the issues of sexual violence.

“It can be healing, but it’s also triggering,” Sempel noted.

Because of the challenge, WAVES has partnered with other campus resources to help counsel young people victimized by any form of domestic or sexual violence.

“The main thing here is support. Make that connection, and be that safe place,” Sempel said.