By: JOHN LARSON
Don’t be surprised if you see some t-shirts flowing in the wind between Northside and the SAC, but certainly pay attention.
The Feminist Student Union (FSU) has erected a display for the Clothesline Project, which encourages victims of incest, domestic violence and sexual assault to write their statements onto a shirt and hang them up for all to see. Allies are also urged to write messages of encouragement, should they like.
The ultimate goal of the project is to make people to face issues in the community regarding issues of intimate partner violence (IPV), an issue that affects many.
“Women ages 16-24 experience the highest rates of IPV, so people on our campus really need to see this and know that it’s not normal to be treated badly or violently by a partner,” said FSU representatives Kayla Isenbletter and Emily Richardson. “It also gives people an outlet to tell their story and how they feel.”
The Clothesline Project has put on demonstrations of this sort since 2013.
Since 2016, the FSU and Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) has been putting it together.
April Lidinsky, the director of WGS, has been overseeing it since then.
Community turnout has been a major part of the project. Isenbletter and Richardson point specifically to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) for much of their support.
“Quite a few women showed up to make t-shirts and talk to us about their experiences,” they said.
In addition to the YWCA, the LGBTQ Center, the Honors Program and the Family Justice Center of South Bend have previously been strong supporters of the effort.
One issues being faced is that students seem to have a reluctance from participating in the effort. “It was a struggle getting students to participate in the form of t-shirt making and set-up. Everyone has busy schedules and… not everyone wants to share,” note Isenbletter and Richardson.
It goes beyond the issue of mere scheduling issues, however.
“Despite the t-shirts being anonymous, it is probably difficult to put your story up for everyone to see. Domestic violence is a very scary and personal issues, and some people just aren’t in a place where they feel safe or comfortable sharing yet,” they said.
The Clothesline Project installation will be up on campus, near Northside and the SAC, for one more week. Students are encouraged to take pictures and share them on social media using the hashtag #IUSBagainstIPV. Women who have experienced IPV can contact the YWCA at 574-287-9622.