Clothesline Project provides safe space for student expression
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With recent events of a sexual assault that occurred March 18 in Isla Vista and dialogue of City College possibly gaining gender-neutral bathrooms, the Clothesline Project was a gathering for any students to share their experiences.
The Clothesline Project, which advocates for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, was held Wednesday at Friendship Plaza, where colorful shirts and powerful words were strung.
Wellness Connection provided support and information at the display where students could create T-shirts and flyers representing different types of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.
“It’s not just a statistic, it’s a statement,” said Roxane Pate, student program advisor of Wellness Connection.
The project that’s originally geared towards women’s violence has been done three times in the last two years, but this year it was opened up to represent all genders and different experiences.
The color lavender now represents physical and sexual abuse against the LGBTQ community, which includes experiences like rape, domestic violence, incest and sexual abuse, dating violence, and sexual harassment and violence.
“From a personal and professional point, we can’t limit the type of violence that goes on in our community,” Pate said. “This affects everyone and allows us to hear all voices about many experiences.”
Wellness Connection held the event in front of the mural in Friendship Plaza this year in a more secluded spot than last to let students have the choice of entering the display and walking through the clotheslines.
A writing circle was held for anyone who wanted to show support, share or listen to stories of their peers. The safe space was led with help from the Student Equity Committee who provided comfort and opportunity for students to engage with one another in close quarters and break barriers.
“It started with 10 shirts and it’s just growing,” said Isabel Carrillo, a student employee of Wellness Connection. “It’s awesome seeing the tables filled with people.”
According to the event, 20 percent of women and about 6 percent of men will be sexually assaulted in the U.S. by the time they leave college.
Santa Barbara Rape and Crisis Center had representatives in attendance to provide support, awareness and information, as well as provide information on future events to take part in.
“It’s a very emotional event where people get to engage with one another,” said Idalia Gomez, program director for the crisis center. “It’s very eye-opening.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a rape occurs in California every 56 minutes.
“This is something we’re told not to talk about,” Pate said. “We are not alone.”
The Santa Barbara Rape and Crisis hotline are open 24/7 at 805-564-3696, National LGBTQ Help Center at 1-800-246-7743 or for the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.