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Jack Brandt September 13, 2023

Augustana to host events promoting sexual assault awareness

Volleyball players Rachel Butters and Taryn VanEarwage write messages on shirts as part of the Clothesline Project during Symposium Day on Sept. 17. Photo by LuAnna Gerdeman.
 Volleyball players Rachel Butters and Taryn VanEarwage write messages on shirts as part of the Clothesline Project during Symposium Day on Sept. 17.  Photo by LuAnna Gerdeman.

Volleyball players Rachel Butters and Taryn VanEarwage write messages on shirts as part of the Clothesline Project during Symposium Day on Sept. 17.
Photo by LuAnna Gerdeman.

Augustana College will host two events on Oct. 5 to promote awareness for sexual assault and gender-based violence.

These events are The Clothesline Project and a showing of the 2015 documentary “The Hunting Ground” at 7 p.m. in Hanson 102. These events are being sponsored by Dr. Jessica Nodulman’s Health Communication class who is hosting the Clothesline Project, while the screening is being hosted by Project SAVE (Sexual Assault Violence Education and Empowerment), an on-campus club whose purpose is to bring awareness to sexual violence.

The Clothesline Project is a way for students to share their own experiences with gender-based violence. Students write a message on a shirt, either with their own story, words of inspiration, or just anything pertaining to the idea that people who suffer from this type of violence are not alone, said Nodulman.

“There is really quite a reflection of people talking about things that have happen to them,” said Dr. Nodulman about the project. “There are also messages from allies.”

Shirts that students wrote their messages on during Symposium Day on Sept. 17 will be hung across campus on Clotheslines on Oct. 5.

“Talking at clotheslines is a way that women in the community would talk to each other about things,” said Nodulman. “(Gender-based violence) is something that had to be taboo, but now people can really talk about it and help.”

Lauren Bergquist, a sophomore in Nodulman’s class, said the Clothesline Project showed how concerned the campus is regarding sexual violence.

“There were also a lot more males and first years than what I would have expected, which I think is starting to show that sexual violence is becoming less of a taboo,” said Bergquist. “People are really starting to notice what a huge problem sexual violence is on college campuses.”

Courtney Smith, a first-year who attended the session during Symposium Day, said the Clothesline Project reminded her how sexual assault is a rising concern.

“(The Clothesline Project) also showed me that many people are being sexually assaulted but are too afraid to speak up, it is important that we get the message out (so) that people are there to help them and they should not be afraid to seek help,” said Smith.

“The Hunting Ground” documentary focuses on two University of North Carolina students who were raped while enrolled at the school and then filed a Title IX case against their university when nothing was done to help them.

“It’s a really interesting documentary about how student activism can lead to real changes,” said Dr. Nodulman.

A panel discussion will be held after the movie led by history professor Jane Simonsen and psychology professor Jessica Schultz. The panel is to help students discuss anything they saw in the movie and to provide a forum to discuss sexual violence. Nodulman said the movie can also be triggering, so there will be representatives from SafePath there to help anyone having troubles emotionally.

Senior Eleanor Nolan said on Oct. 6 she is planning a day of self care, where organizers of the Clothesline Project and “The Hunting Ground” events can debrief and raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence.

Nolan said the day will feature a yoga session for the campus as well as possibly therapy dogs and a tea/coffee conversation with a Family Resources employee. Family Resources is a counseling service that helps provide mental health and stability.

“The Day of Self Care is going to focus on letting people who engaged with The Clothesline Project and ‘The Hunting Ground’ debrief, since both raise awareness about tough issues like sexual and domestic violence,” said Nolan.

Bergquist said all students can benefit from attending both events.

“It is one thing to take a mandatory class about sexual assault, it is a very different experience seeing your own peers spreading the word and education students about the issue,” said Bergquist. “By getting students aware of the issue without the staff of the college getting involved, that is when the changes will really start to be made. If students want to learn instead of being forced to learn, the rate of sexual violence should start to drop.”

Along with these two events, SafePath, a program that serves those effected by domestic and sexual violence, and the Women’s and Gender Studies department will host Rising Up Against Violence, where Brooke Axtell, a survivor of sexual trafficking and partner violence, will perform a spoken word presentation on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Hanson 102.

The college will also host Mentors in Violence Prevention train-the trainer sessions, where former professional football player Jackson Katz will lead a two-day session where participants from Augustana and other area colleges/agencies will receive awareness training on leadership on Oct. 2 in the College Center Board Room.

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Augustana to host events promoting sexual assault awareness