T-shirt display raises issues of violence awareness

Melody Wachowski

T-shirts sporting phrases encouraging people to stand up against abuse hang in the Student Center yesterday. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sponsors the Clothesline Project which will be displayed until Oct. 25. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

A bright pink T-shirt displayed the words, “Know your friends; it’s not always a stranger in the bushes.” The shirt represented a survivor of sexual assault who participated in the Clothesline Project, a program designed to address the issue of violence against men and women.

Individuals who have been affected by violence can express their emotions by decorating a yellow, red, pink, blue, green, purple, black or white T-shirt indicating what type of violence they were victim of.

Members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority discovered the program during a visit to Ohio State, said Candice Poole, a member of the sorority. They decided to set up a display at Kent State with T-shirts decorated by abused and battered individuals living in Portage County.

Poole has taken special interest in organizing the program to create awareness about domestic violence.

“I feel that it is never too soon to talk about abuse and educate young men and women,” she said. “People can discriminate, but abuse can’t. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, race or sexual orientation.”

The sorority took T-shirts and supplies to Safer Futures, a shelter for abuse victims, on Oct. 7, so people living there could make shirts that reflect their experiences.

The finished shirts will be on display from 11a.m to 2 p.m. Oct. 20 through Oct. 25.

Jon Harper, assistant director of the Student Center, gave his full support of the project and the display.

“This display is important because it expresses the realness of the situation: domestic violence. The more students who know about it, the better,” Harper said.

Mandy Franc, senior human development major and member of Phi Gamma Pi, said it is nice to see an organization addressing the issue and reaching out to other people on campus.

“The display is really cool, and it draws a lot of attention to itself. It is a really good awareness tool for something that needs to be talked about,” she said.

The shirts will be on display at 6:00 p.m. Oct. 25 in Room 204 of the Student Center before the documentary film Mending Spirits, which will show at 6:30.

The film will be presented as a part of the Women’s Resource Center’s 10th anniversary. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, the Center for International and Comparative Programs and the Student Multicultural Center are also sponsoring the event.

“It is very important to discuss this issue at this time of year,” Poole said. “You would be surprised at how many women go to the health center after Halloween wondering if they had been raped.”

“Men and women need to know that staying silent because they are ashamed or humiliated will not help them or anyone else.”

Contact social services reporter Melody Wachowski at [email protected].