Clothesline that means you care

Messages written on the t-shirts tell victim's stories. Rachel Pasker/The Buzz.
Messages written on the t-shirts tell victim’s stories. Rachel Pasker/The Buzz.

When clothes get hung out on a line, they are usually drying after being washed. At SAU, however, when t-shirts are hung on a line, they contain words and powerful messages. On Thursday Oct. 31, t-shirts were strung throughout the Beehive and the Rogalski Center Food Court, but they were not misplaced clean clothes trying to dry. They were a part of the Clothesline Project Display put on by a women’s studies class in an attempt to raise awareness for women who have been victims of domestic violence.

Women’s Studies 201 is part of a Learning Community entitled ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ The Clothesline Project was used as a way to show the students that by working together they can make a difference and a change.

The project has been going on for the last five years, but has recently become an entire class project. Katy Strzepek, director of Women’s Studies, teaches the class and uses this as a classroom project in hopes that it will create a bigger impact and bring the students together as activists.

“We want to give a voice to break the silence for those who haven’t spoken out [about domestic violence],” Strzepek said.

All St. Ambrose students and community members were encouraged to pick up a blank t-shirt and write their stories or the stories of someone they know on it who has been a victim of domestic violence. Drop-off boxes were also provided in the Rogalski Center and Cosgrove for anyone to leave a shirt anonymously.

“The display was for anyone with a connection to someone who was a victim, help them speak out and to make a difference especially since October is sexual assault awareness month,” Kasey Nielson, a student in Strzepek’s class said.

The display works as a way to show support for victims. Rachel Pasker/The Buzz.
The display works as a way to show support for victims. Rachel Pasker/The Buzz.

Although the display started as a class project, other groups on campus supported it as well. Triota, the Counseling Center and Sexual Assault Awareness Team (SAAT) were in involved in the display.

The Clothesline Project is an international display based out of Massachusetts that works to raise awareness of violence against women. They aim to help victims to heal and show that there are resources available to support them.

At the SAU display, students in Strzpek’s class handed out small bags of candy that also include a bracelet and a paper of resources. These Quad Cities resources are a way for victims or those who know victims to seek help and support. The resources include offices on campus such as the Counseling Center, Health Services, Security Department and Residence Life, as well as the phone number for 24-Hour Crisis Lines in Iowa and Illinois.

“We want to show women that if they have experienced it [domestic violence] that they are not alone,” Nikki Devens, another student in Strzpek’s class said.

“We want to give them resources, and let them know that people are there for you,” Nielson added.

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