Clothesline project rallys after attack


Senior Sierra Scanlan reads a piece aloud at the gathering. Photo by Brady Johnson.

There was a large turnout for the solidarity event put on by the Women and Gender Studies department in response to the violent acts that took place against their Clothesline Project display in the quad. A number of Augustana students, faculty and staff gathered together in the lower quad on Friday, Oct 27 to show their support and solidarity.
Dr. Jennifer Popple, co-director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program, was pleased about the turnout. “I think it’s pretty heartening considering it’s pretty quick, it’s a Friday afternoon, it’s very cold. It’s been a nice turnout and I’m pleased with it” Popple said.
The gathering was in response to an incident reported by the Dean of Students office that t-shirts that hung in the lower quad in support of survivors of domestic violence were burned between late Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 25 and Thursday morning, Oct. 26.

Senior Jaime McLean stands with a partially burned shirt and holds the remains of another shirt. Photos by Lu Gerdemann.

The shirts were hung up as part of the Women and Gender Studies Department Clothesline Project display for Her Campus’ Oktobherfest Fall Term event. Jaime McLean, a senior and Women and Gender Studies office assistant, was one of the people who helped with the Clothesline project and hung up the shirts.
“[The burning of the shirt] has a very accurate reflection in a lot of ways [of the Augustana student body]. When we talk about gender base violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, a lot of people have a hard time conceptualizing that as a real violence thing, We see it; we often ignore it. When we don’t see it, it’s very easy for us to minimize it. The act of burning something is so visceral and so violent,” McLean said.
The idea around the project originated from when women would go outside to hang up their laundry and this would be one of the few times that they could talk freely and share their experiences. It was their safe environment.
Many faculty from all departments came and showed support, as well as member from the administration like Dean Evelyn Campbell and President Bahls.
“The incident that happened on Wednesday was, in my view, an act of hate. It was an attempt to silence those voices that had the courage to stand up and talk about sexual assault and domestic violence,” President of the College Steve Bahls said. “And its unacceptable at Augustana College.”
McLean said that they will definitely continue on with the Clothesline project and that the arsonist only made them want to support survivor even more.
“Survivors of domestic violence, survivors of sexual assault, this is not an uncommon threat to them – having an act of violence committed against them. And it means we will not back down,” said McLean.
According to McLean, after the event that there were over 100 shirts up and that they needed both the front and back to write messages. There were poster that people could sign in support of survivors that read, “You are not alone. You are a survivor. You are no longer a victim.”