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Augustana Observer

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February 24, 2024

Blurred Lines: Augustana Clothesline Project brings awareness to violence against women


While working with Family Resources, one quote changed senior Katie Weiss’s outlook on the risk of becoming a victim:
“The only reason you have not been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault is because you are lucky.”
It’s an issue nobody wants to talk about. Sitting at a table in the CSL, Weiss, armed with chocolate chip cookies, was directing students towards the Clothesline Project on Symposium Day last Thursday.
Although Weiss’s offering was sweet, she was hoping to provide awareness for a serious issue: sexual assault.
What seems like an arts and crafts project goes much deeper. The Clothesline Project is a statement, a visual impact, to increase awareness.
Augustana’s Clothesline Project is based upon the Clothesline Project established in Cape Cod, Mass. during 1990 to address the issue of violence against women.
The project originated to help women affected by violence. It allowed them to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.
On October 9, the Augustana clothesline will be hung around campus.
Hanging the shirts is a testimony for others to reflect on the continuing problem.
“I have the right to walk naked down the street if I wanted to, and not get raped,” said Weiss. “It’s always ‘she was wearing that short skirt.’ So what. That doesn’t mean you rape.”
This is the third year that Augustana is doing the Clothesline Project. This year the students are taking the project to the next level.
“The Clothesline Project will help bring awareness to campus. It happens. It happens here,” said senior Megan Vander Wall.
Partnered with senior Kelli Linder, the two will be stationed at a table during the event. Different groups approached the project a different way.
Vander Wall and Linder decided to provide information for students on what happens if you have been assaulted and what you can do.
“Until we make a change as a campus, this will continue to happen,” said Linder.
The participants were especially concerned with the influx of incident reports this term. but it wasn’t the number of reports that caught their attention.
“I think within campus a lot of things go unnoticed or unheard,” said sophomore Andrea McNally.
“Campus incident reports always address the victim,” said Linder. “It’s frustrating a lot of the time.”
Weiss agreed, “The victims are always the ones being given instructions. It’s not us that have to stop; it’s them (the perpetrators). The only people who can stop rape are those who rape.”
The group hopes to educated students about violence against women, especially sexual assault. While it is a sensitive issue, they are especially hoping to inform the large percentage that has not encountered it.
They want to better inform people like senior Emma Howes, who said, “I haven’t had personal experience, but I know people who did. I did it for them (decorated a shirt). It’s one of those things that you can’t believe it’s really going on.”
This year the focus is on awareness, but for both men and women. Senior Eric Dratnol, who is one of two male students in one of Associate Professor of history Jane Simonsen’s Women and Change in the U.S. course said, “It’s important for men to speak up about the issue too. It’s a perspective we often don’t talk about.”
Simonsen agreed.
“One of the things we hope to do is do more than just let people know it’s happening. We want men and women to work together on this. Any guy can tell that making these signs is important.”
In the wise words of Weiss, “We can’t fix it, but we can bring awareness to it. We can bring justice.”

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Blurred Lines: Augustana Clothesline Project brings awareness to violence against women