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16 April 2007
Students' Display Promotes Awareness
of Sexual Assault

By Andy Johns
Anniston Star Staff Writer

T-shirts can be valuable things for college students. An extra clean shirt can delay the need to do laundry one more day.

That didn’t stop Jacksonville State University students from painting, drawing and writing on around 100 shirts Thursday afternoon and hanging them up as a “living memorial” for sexual-assault victims.

The Clothesline Project, organized by The Daybreak Crisis Center and JSU’s Women’s Issues Support and Empowerment group, sought to make a statement by taking the shirts and hanging them out on a clothesline in front of the Theron Montgomery Building.

Organizers say the clotheslines have been used at such events across the nation as a mock salute to the traditional woman’s ritual of laundry day. This marked the second year that the event had taken place at JSU.

A white shirt flapped in the wind on the line with “Be a man keep your hands 2 urself” written in marker across the chest.

A green shirt pinned to the undulating line was painted in pink, reading: “A family tradition: silence, blame, ignore, indifference, tolerance ... so the cycle is not broken.”

A purple shirt adorned with brightly colored butterflies and flowers stated simply, “Love does not hurt.”

“It’s a good eye-catcher,” said senior Jessica Robinson, who was at the event to support her sister, who survived an assault. “The more they see the shirts, the more they wonder what’s going on.”

“Education and talking about it is not pretty, but we need to,” said Trace Fleming-Smith, a founder of WISE and one of the organizers of the project.

Students, faculty and curious passersby perused the shirts, which were hung just yards from Alabama 21.

Those who gathered heard from a handful of guest speakers at 3 p.m. before the closing ceremony at 6 p.m.

At the closing, participants were given plates with the word, “Silence” written across them and were instructed to smash them into a trash can.

“People will really be able to break the silence,” said Fleming-Smith.

“It’s in your face, but we’re hoping it opens an arena for discussion, because that’s what’s going to stop this.”

About Andy Johns

Andy Johns is a graduate of Berry College in Rome, Ga. He covers crime and courts for The Star.

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