The Clothesline Project encourages students to speak up

By creating t-shirts, the event motivated students to talk about sexual violence

Nia Douglas, Contributing Writer

“‘No’ and ‘yes’ are some of the first words you learn in any language – when did capable adults forget their meanings?”

Yesterday, Television and Film major Kaylee Kosakowski was able to pose this thought-provoking question to the St. John’s community using only a simple white t-shirt.

Kosakowski is one of many students getting involved in the annual Turn Off the Violence Week events on campus.

According to the St. John’s Sexual Violence Outreach and Response Office (S.O.A.R), this special week aims to promote “awareness, empowerment and action, in response to sexual violence in our community.”

The anti-violence t-shirts displayed throughout campus are only one part of the Turn Off the Violence Week, yet they are easily the most memorable and iconic part of the event.

As a part of the Clothesline Project, messages and sentiments about violence and abuse are displayed on t-shirts lined up in the windows of heavily populated buildingd like Montgoris, Marillac and the D’Angelo Center.

“The Clothesline Project is an international exhibit, people do it all across the world,” Hannah Artiles-Stravers, director of S.O.A.R , explained today at the t-shirt making table at the Marillac Terrace.

Artiles-Stravers added, “T-shirts often represent violence happening in the home. We hang out our dirty laundry to dry. So it represents a woman’s work of letting it go, sort of expressing that she’s been hurt in the home.”

S.O.A.R says that this week focuses on sexual violence, talking about issues like stalking, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Although the Clothesline Project focuses on the representation of violence against girls and women in particular, Artiles-Stravers affirms that anyone is free to join and express their sentiments about these prevalent issues.  

“The more shirts we have, the more voices we have, the louder we get,” says Artiles-Stravers.

“I don’t think it’s just a woman’s issue,” said Peter Andrews, a junior Physics major and member of Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity.

Andrews, who is volunteering at the Clothesline Project, claims that he has experienced domestic violence, which makes him passionate about the issue.

“It’s not just a womens’ issue; it’s something near and dear to me,” Andrews added.

The personal connections and palpable sentiments that students, such as Andrews and Kosakowski, share about violence and abuse has made this week a success so far.

“For tabling, we always get a good turnout. We add about 100 shirts every year to our Clothesline Project,” said Artiles-Stravers.

“I remember last year I saw the shirts and I absolutely loved them,” Kosakowski shared after finishing her own masterpiece. “I think it’s a great way to send the message.”

While t-shirt making continues on Wednesday, April 27 at Montgoris Dining Hall, other events following this include poetry readings, a bystander intervention workshop, a film screening and a career talk.

S.O.A.R urges any students who need help and support regarding violence and abuse (including survivors), as well as students who simply are eager to make a change.

To contact S.O.A.R. and get involved  call 718-990-8484, or stop by the University Center Office B02.