Clothesline Project ushers in new changes, reaches out to community

This year, the Clothesline Project — an annually held event that generates awareness of sexual assault — has undergone several changes that have striven to diversify the overall program and reach out to a larger portion of the Swarthmore community.

Along with hosting a wider array of events than usual, this year’s Clothesline Project has enlisted the help of the SMARTeam, many of whose members have stepped forward in taking the lead role in organizing the event. Though not run by a specific campus group, the Clothesline Project is run largely by SMARTeam members, along with other campus members interested in the project.

One underlying change affecting the project is the switch to the spring semester. According to Lisa Sendrow ’13, a SMARTeam member who has been participating in the Clothesline Project since freshman year and plans to continue with it in the future, this shift was made due to the general stress that came with holding it in the fall. “September was early, especially for the first-years who just went through ASAP and were not as aware of sexual assault and survivors issues at the time,” said Sendrow. “[The planners of the event] all agreed that this was better because there was less stress and more time to really think about the meaning of the Clothesline Project and what can be done on campus as we begin to approach the end of one year and the beginning of another.” She also added that since this year’s event is held two weeks from Genderfuck, it can potentially raise more awareness about sexual assault.

In addition to this change, the project will also include support from Phi Psi in running the Handprint Pledge Project, which allows members of the community to create a handprint on a sheet of cloth in a vow to not treat another in an abusive manner. Delta Upsilon brothers have always particpated in the handprint pledge, but this is the first year in which Phi Psi brothers will assist in the project.

According to Sendrow, “the presidents of both fraternities especially have been extremely supportive of our mission and have really dedicated themselves to making Swarthmore a safter campus.”

The Clothesline Project, which is a nationwide event, has always featured t-shirts of five colors representing various types of violence. As part of this year’s event, three shirt-making sessions (two of which have already been held) were scheduled. The shirts will be hung on Parrish Beach from March 19-22 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Rebecca Ahmad, a sexual health counselor and member of the SMARTeam, assisted in last night’s closed t-shirt decorating session. “The t-shirt decoration with the closed survivor group was beautiful because it is just everyone trying to find the words and images to portray their stories in their own ways.”

To cap off this year’s Clothesline Project, a reception will be held in the Friends Meetinghouse on March 23 from 1 – 2 p.m.

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