Blank T-shirts, shoes and art supplies littered Room 102 in Fernald Hall Wednesday while students filtered in to decorate apparel with words of hope and respect.
Safe Campus Initiative and Rape Response Services teamed up to organize Take a Walk in My Shoes to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The T-shirts will be sent to a community event at the State House in Augusta on April 2. They will be displayed with other decorated shirts that are being collected from every other college campuses in Maine by the Campus Clothesline Project to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Carey Nason of Safe Campus Initiative organized the event.
“It’s an opportunity for people to be able to express their thoughts and opinions in a creative way,” Nason said. “Things people make today will become part of a larger collection, and that is really cool.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year focuses on college campuses. The Clothesline Project in Maine is an effort organized by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the member sexual assault crisis and support centers.
“The goal is obviously awareness,” said Tina Voigt, a University of Maine graduate who works for Rape Response. “The thing that goes with raising awareness is the reality that sexual assault is something that happens in more places than just college campuses. Decorating T-shirts makes things more personal.”
different ways. Being able to participate in an activity such as Take a Walk in My Shoes allows people to express their feelings toward the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence in an individual and imaginative way.
Fliers were plastered around campus to promote the event, and students were asked to bring old shoes to Fernald Hall. These shoes and T-shirts were decorated with stories of hope, survival, and freedom from domestic violence and sexual assault. Roughly 25 students attended the meeting.
Nicole Cidorowich is a second-year sociology student who attended the event.
“I came here after seeing the fliers as well as to work on a project for my family violence class,” Cidorowich said. “I’m glad to be a part of this.”
The Clothesline Project was started in Cape Cod, Mass., in 1990 to bring attention to the violence that occurs against women and to help with the healing process of survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault.
In 1998 the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault organized the Clothesline Project in Maine, and has collected hundreds of T-shirts from campuses statewide. They are displayed regularly as an attempt to bring the issue to society’s attention. The initiative is the first statewide campus Clothesline Project effort in Maine.
After shirts are collected, they are hung on clotheslines as recognition of the violent experiences that have occurred in the past. At UMaine, shirts will be hung in Fernald Hall and throughout the university mall if the weather permits it.