Campus Clothesline Project kicks off Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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FARMINGTON – The canvas, a stark white T-shirt, soon bore colorful drawings and words expressing feelings about sexual assault and violence as students at the University of Maine at Farmington and others gathered Monday to create the shirts.

As part of the Maine Campus Clothesline Project, decorated T-shirts collected from every Maine campus will be displayed April 2 in the State House’s Hall of Flags in Augusta. The Campus Clothesline Project is part of a kickoff for April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Students from Alison Terry’s Psychology of Leadership class worked with Farmington’s Sexual Assault Victims Emergency Services (SAVES) to host Monday’s creative event.

“It can be anything positive, standing up against sexual abuse, a tactile expression of how you feel,” said Barbara Merrill-White, a sophomore student in Terry’s class, as she helped students decide what to draw.

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Merrill-White recounted statistics about young, vulnerable victims of sexual abuse: Most are under age 12, one in four girls and one in six boys. She said creating the T-shirts was also an effort in prevention and awareness of family violence.

“The Clothesline Project started in Cape Cod, Mass., in 1990 as a way to bear witness to violence against women, to help with the healing process of survivors of violence and to raise awareness in society of the extent of violence against women,” according to a brochure about the Maine Campus Clothesline Project.

This project, organized by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, has involved campuses and sexual assault crisis and support centers around the state, said Cara Gaumont from MECASA who was there to support the efforts of UMF and SAVES.

After the T-shirts are hung in the Hall of Flags, some will be returned and displayed here, some will be stored for future clothesline projects, she said.

SAVES and UMF will also co-sponsor the annual Peace in Our Families walk and award event starting at 6:30 p.m. April 8 at Meetinghouse Park, said Judy Rawlings, director of SAVES. Ending at Old South Church there will be a time for participants to “speak out” and a guest speaker.

Remembering 2007 when there were several acts of violence on campus, senior Asia Burrill thought the standing up against violence event was important in disclaiming the events of that year and representing what a really nice and beautiful campus UMF has, she said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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