LEHMAN TWP. — The Clothesline Project drew attention to violence against women in an emotional way for Penn State Wilkes-Barre students Monday.
The Clothesline Project is a national program offering victims of violence an opportunity to design a T-shirt expressing their feelings. The completed shirts are hung on a “clothesline,” creating a visual display of the effects of abuse. The exhibit at Penn State Wilkes-Barre in Lehman Township featured 22 T-shirts designed by women from the Victims Resource Center in Wilkes-Barre.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre is hosting the display in honor of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is observed in April, said Sarah Luvender, a student counselor at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
The exhibit was set up in the Student Commons building from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday. The Clothesline Project will be relocated to a different on-campus building throughout the week, Luvender said. The Clothesline Project will be on display in the Academic Commons on Tuesday, the Technology Center on Wednesday, the Science Center on Thursday and the Athletic Recreation Building on Friday.
Luvender and Janet MacKay, executive director of the Victims Resource Center, explained the meaning behind the colored T-shirts to the observing students.
Each colored T-shirt represents a particular type of violence:
• White represents women who died due to violence;
• Yellow or beige is for battered or assaulted women;
• Red, pink and orange represent survivors of rape and sexual assault;
• Blue and green are for survivors of incest and sexual abuse;
• Purple or lavender represent women physically attacked due to their sexual orientation; and
• Black is for women attacked for political reasons.
Messages such as “You Butchered our Mom,” and “You beat my pregnant cousin with a hammer,” stopped students in their tracks.
Shawn Lucas, of Shavertown, stood spellbound before the display.
“It is kind of crazy,” he said while reading the shirts. “It makes you wonder what is wrong with people.”
“It is very eye-opening,” Jesse Macko, of Wilkes-Barre, said. “You do not realize how in-the-dark the subject is.”
Students have an opportunity to post their comments about the exhibit on small T-shirt shaped papers and hang them on the clothesline. Many responses included “powerful” and “strong message.”
Luvender was hoping the exhibit would create attention and awareness about violence against women and encourage students to be proactive to prevent abuse including sexual assault.
“Sexual assault on college campuses is high,” MacKay said.
One in every four female college students have been assaulted sexually, Luvender said.
Jackie W-Piatt, a student activities coordinator at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, recalled receiving an email stating in the spring semester of 2015 there were 27 reported cases of sexual assault at Penn State’s main campus.
“There were probably more cases that were never reported,” W-Piatt said.
The University is taking a proactive stand against sexual assault by holding a Stand For State Workshop from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, in the Athletic Recreation Building on Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus. The event will highlight bystander intervention techniques friends can use to keep each other safe.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre student Deanna Thomas, of Nanticoke, said her “close-knit friends” are always aware of each other when they do go out to try to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from developing.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.