Sociology group collects undergarments for shelters

Kyle Roerink

The chapter of Sociologists for Women in Society from Kent State and the University of Akron recently completed a two-week collection of undergarments for women’s shelters and rape crisis centers.

The organization collected two large bags of bras and underwear, as well as $300, to donate to the shelters and centers. SWS has not decided which shelters and rape crisis centers it will donate to, said Tiffany Taylor, assistant professor of sociology and SWS member.

“Because we were successful in getting a lot of undies and money to buy undies, we’re thinking we could probably give it to a few shelters in Kent and Akron,” she said. “We kind of just did it, and now were like, ‘Oh, where do we send them?'”

Taylor said SWS members who have worked with different shelters in the past knew undergarments were what women needed.

“Most drives you hear about are about food, and most people are willing to give food,” Taylor said. “But most people don’t think to give underwear, and underwear is something that a lot of people take for granted.”

Taylor said when a woman who has just been raped goes to the emergency room, her underwear becomes evidence.

“(The underwear) becomes part of the rape kit, so the rape crisis centers like to have clean, new underwear that she can wear home,” she said. ” … Not that you can lessen the severity and humiliation of being screened for a rape kit, but I guess it makes (the situation) a little better to have nice, new underwear to wear home.”

Taylor said shelters and rape crisis centers also often need bras and underpants for mistreated women who come into the shelters.

“When you think about it, when a woman is fleeing an abusive relationship, she is going to get her children and she is going to get her children’s clothing and what they need,” Taylor said, “but she is not going to think, ‘I need to make sure I have enough underwear.'”

Michelle Jacobs, graduate student in sociology and SWS member, said making people aware of the reality of rapes taking place in the area was paramount for the clothing drive.

“I think it is important to draw attention to the fact that (rape) is happening,” Jacobs said. “A lot of people block it from their minds.”

She said improving lives of community members in various ways is one of SWS’ goals.

“We might not do another underwear drive,” Jacobs said, “but we will consistently try to find actions that enable us to align our scholarship with our politics and allow us to work in the community and contribute to the community.”

Taylor said the clothing drive needed volunteers to donate undergarments and money to make it all possible. But she said time is something that everyone can offer for any type of volunteer work.

“We are in a position, being involved with the university, of great privilege that we can do great things,” she said. “Even if it is a matter of, ‘Oh, we don’t have any money,’ we can volunteer time and things like that.”

Contact College of the Arts and Sciences reporter Kyle Roerink at [email protected].