RIC Students Decorate T-shirts For Sexual Assault Awareness Month

About 30  t-shirts were decorated in the Women’s Center at Rhode Island College in April as part of The Clothesline Project, a worldwide event that honors women who have been affected by violence.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States, and the Women's Center at RIC participated in the Clothesline Project last year to help raise awareness of the issue, said Jessica Crowe, coordinator of the Women’s Center and a RIC social work graduate student. "I thought it was a great event, and I wanted to continue doing it,” she said.

The Clothesline Project grew out of a grassroots effort in Cape Cod, Mass., in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women. It allows affected women, their friends and families to express their emotions by decorating t-shirts and hanging the shirts in public as a testimony to the global problem.

“This event is so important for so many reasons, especially because this issue can affect students, both male and female, as well as everyone on campus,” said Crowe.

“It’s really important that we come together at Rhode Island College to represent students who may be affected by sexual assault, or for those who may have a family member or know someone affected,” she added. “It’s important to spread this type of awareness on campus because many people are unaware that these issues are really happening.”

Today there are an estimated 500 national and international Clothesline Projects spanning from Rhode Island to Tanzania, consisting of as many as 60,000 t-shirts.

The shirts decorated by at RIC students, faculty and staff were hung on a clothesline just to the side of the Quad for the second and third weeks of April.

The t-shirts that were decorated at RIC were white, but according to the CLP website, the shirts are normally color coded to show if the victim was subject to physical (yellow/beige) or sexual (red, pink, orange, blue and green) abuse, or if they were attacked because of their sexual orientation (purple) or for political (black) reasons.

White t-shirts often symbolize women who were killed during the violence, but this was not the case at RIC. Crowe said that the Women’s Center staff brought the color differences to the students’ attention, but it was ultimately the decision of those decorating them to make the shirts appear however they wanted.

The Women’s Center at RIC regularly offers programs and services to promote the awareness of sexual assault, including the annual production of the Vagina Monologues, the Take Back the Night rally and awareness articles submitted to the student newspaper.

The center next will host “Inhale, Exhale,” an open event to talk, de-stress and drink tea with friends on May 1, at 12:30 p.m. in Adams Library Room 409.

For more information, contact Jessica Crowe at jcrowe_2182@email.ric.edu.