Clothesline Project promotes campus awareness of sexual assault

Katherine Kromer, Contributing Writer

Pull out quote: “The Clothesline Project is a really important event for Speak UP because it spreads our message to all of campus. The project allows students to be creative and take a stand against sexual assault for No More Month.” – Zoe Lindahl ’20

Each year as part of No More Month, which spans throughout the month of October, Speak UP organizes events aimed to promote awareness of issues related to sexual assault and sexual violence. One of the more visible movements of the No More campaign is the Clothesline Project. The purpose of the project is to promote awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence and to give voice and support to victim-survivors.

On Sept. 24 and 27, and on Oct. 1 and 3, Speak UP hosted events where students were able to decorate shirts that will later be displayed in Bertrand Library and in the Elaine Langone Center (ELC). Through decorating shirts with messages of support to victim-survivors as well as messages speaking out against domestic violence and sexual assault, students are able to visibly display their commitment to these issues.

In regards to themes, patterns, or messages decorated on shirts, Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator Rachel Stewart said, “So far, we’ve had a few shirts made that make reference to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, or #MeToo and Time’s Up, but the majority of shirts made seem to be very Bucknell-specific. Slogans like ‘Ray Consent,’ ‘No More,’ and ‘Speak UP’ are very popular, but we also see a huge range of messages… everything from statements about consent, to personal stories, to supportive messages directed at victim-survivors.”

“The Clothesline Project is probably one of my favorite parts of No More Month. It’s a brilliant medium through which anyone at Bucknell can show their support for victim-survivors‚” Abby Iaconis ’20, who attended the Oct. 1 shirt decorating event, said. “And once all the shirts are up on display, you can definitely see and feel their impact. That’s something really special.”

“On my shirt I am planning to write ‘I hear you, and I believe you,’” Brooke Schechter ’20 said in anticipation of attending the Oct. 3 shirt decorating event. Explaining her reason for choosing this message to display on a shirt, Schechter elaborated that she “think[s] it is really important for people who speak out to have a support system, and to know they are loved and believed.”

Stewart shared that “to me, this is an important and impactful event for a few reasons. The Clothesline Project (along with other events like Take Back the Night) serves as an important reminder that sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking do happen on Bucknell’s campus, and that they likely affect someone you know. In that way, it serves to reinforce and personalize the awareness and prevention messages that Speak Up spreads in its workshops.”

Stewart also remarked that “being able to write a message or tell a story can be extremely cathartic or empowering to folks who have been affected by these issues, whether they’re victim-survivors, the friends or family of victim-survivors, or even just members of the Bucknell community. When we hang the shirts in the ELC and the Library, it brings these issues out into the open and makes them hard to ignore.”

Speak UP peer Zoe Lindahl ’20 said that “the Clothesline Project is a really important event for Speak UP because it spreads our message to all of campus. The project allows students to be creative and take a stand against sexual assault for No More Month. We’ve been really happy with our turnout thus far, and are hoping for continued participation at Take Back the Night.”

Addressing the number of shirts decorated in years past and projecting an increase for this year,  Stewart reported on Oct. 2 that “In years past, we’ve had about 150 shirts made each year. As of [the October 1st decorating event], over 130 have been made, and we have one more night of shirt-making, on Wednesday, so I do believe we will have more shirts made this year than years past.”

Upon returning from fall break, the shirts decorated by students will be displayed across campus in locations such as Bertrand Library and the ELC Mall. The Clothesline Project shirts will remain on display throughout the duration of the No More Month of October.

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