Students speak out against sexual assault

April 11, 2012

Writer Wanda Laukkanen takes a look at this week's Clothesline Project at Pacific, where students are decorating T-shirts and hanging them around campus to raise awareness of sexual assault.

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Colorful shirts make a powerful statement.

If you’re out and about on the Forest Grove campus during the warm sunny days this week, take a gander at the bright T-shirts swinging to the breezes on clotheslines around the UC.

It’s a pretty sight highlighted with a powerful message: Be aware of sexual assault and support its victims.

Organized by the Residence Housing Association at Pacific, the Clothesline Project is part of a national effort by college campuses in promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

RHA is supplying T-shirts and paints in a variety of colors, along with brushes, on the UC patio every day through Friday this week from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for anyone who wants to paint a message about sexual assault on a shirt and have it hung up for all to see. Participants also get a blue ribbon they may wear in support of sexual assault victims.

“It’s just a message to let people who have been sexually assaulted know that they are being supported,” said Kerstin Amezcua, a junior and the RHA leadership development coordinator.

She noted that students who prefer not to paint a T-shirt in a public location have the option of writing a message on cards that have been distributed to all the students’ UC mailboxes. The cards can be dropped in the RHA mailbox.

A variety of messages adorn the shirts already hanging on lines surrounding the UC:

- Respect is Sexy

- Be a man, help END sexual assault

- Plant seeds of love

According to RHA, nationally one in five women will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate from college. Those painting the T-shirts at Pacific are both supporters of victims of sexual assault as well as victims themselves.

“I was sexually assaulted when I was younger,” said one student, who was painting a shirt on a sunny morning. “I think this is really a good way to get awareness across.”