Got consent?

T-shirts line the second floor of the Student Center as part of the Clothesline Project, which addresses the issue of violence against women and men on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017.

Zoe Swartz

In the midst of Sex Week 2017, Kent Interhall Council hoped to raise awareness on sexual assault with their Clothesline Project.

The project displayed shirts with personal messages made by student survivors, or friends and family of survivors, of power-based personal violence, in the Student Center Wednesday.

Power-based personal violence, as defined by Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services, is sexual assault, rape, relationship violence and abuse like aggressive and controlling behavior. Emotional and physical abuse, stalking and sexual harassment also fall under this definition.

These issues are what KIC wanted to bring attention to, said Chase Ritchie, a freshman exploratory major and member of the council’s programming board.

“The Clothesline Project is a way for victims of sexual abuse of any kind to voice their opinion and get what happened to them, how they overcame it and how they feel out there,” Ritchie said. “It’s all about getting the message out there that this happens, and it’s not taken lightly.”

Ryan Markley, a freshman journalism major, member of KIC’s programming board and the social justice advocate for Lake and Olson Hall Council, said this event served as a way to bring people together in battling this issue.

“This is a visual representation to other survivors,” Markley said. “Like a ‘Hey, there are people in the world that this happens to, and we can come together through this and through so many other things to put an end to this.’”

The display, with nearly 100 T-shirts, had motivational phrases on the shirts such as “You matter” and “#TransLivesMatter.” There were also shirts with accounts from people about their abuse.

Whether they were passing by or stopping to take a look, students and employees saw the display and some even took pictures.

One of the students who made time to read all the shirts was Jennifer Cobb, a senior communication studies major, and a victim herself.

“Just reading all of these, every single shirt is so different, and it’s just so crazy,” Cobb said. “There are certain ones that speak out to me a little more, as I am a victim of sexual assault, and it’s a part of my story. It’s who I am. I just hope the person is living and learning and not doing it to other people.”

Cobb said the display brought back a lot of memories for her, but said it’s great to keep the discussion moving forward.

“I really give these people credit for going through something so horrible and being able to not let it ruin their lives and stepping out and speaking up and protesting,” Cobb said. “It’s so easy to let it tear you down and break you, but they’re out there fighting for what they believe in.”

Ritchie said they both want people to know that abuse can and does happen to everybody.

“A big thing we want to stress with sexual assault is that it’s not just women,” Ritchie said. “It’s men too.”

Markley shared the same sentiments.

“Anyone who identifies with any gender can be assaulted sexually, or in any way,” Markley said. “It’s not discriminatory. It’s important to take those people into account.”

Ritchie hopes this is the start of something bigger for the discussion about sexual and relationship violence.

“It’s something that should be taken seriously, and it needs to be talked about,” Ritchie said. “It’s an issue that needs to be fixed, I hope this starts the conversation and extends it forward and continues to spread.”

Zoe Swartz is the room and board reporter. Contact her at [email protected].