The Clothesline Project: A Powerful Reminder to Listen to Survivors

Across Worner Quad stretches a long clothesline of t-shirts. Penned onto these shirts are stories of sexual assault, harassment, and domestic abuse. The shirts, hanging solemnly amid the student center commotion, are simultaneously a jarring reminder of the occurrence of sexual violence on campus, as well as a platform for survivors to share their experiences. The clothesline of shirts is the product of Colorado College’s annual Clothesline Project. The project is directed by CC’s Student Organization for Sexual Safety.

Photos by Alli Moon

“The clothesline project is a really powerful way of standing in solidarity with survivors by giving them a platform to tell their stories and display them together,” said SOSS Co-Chair, Eloise Kelly ’21. “I think just seeing the huge quantity of t-shirts and the range of stories told by them is super impactful.”

Without a doubt, the physical representation of a discourse so readily overlooked and obscured on college campuses has powerful implications for viewers.

The Clothesline Project has a long history at CC; the first display of t-shirts was over a decade ago. However, the project is not limited to this campus. The Clothesline Project originated in Hyannis, Mass. in 1990 and has since been adopted as a practice of survivor solidarity at colleges across the U.S.

As we face up to, and progress through the exhausting inundation of sexual violence cases brought to light by the #Metoo movement, it is important to prioritize the voices of survivors over the defensive whines of those accused. The Clothesline Project can be viewed on Worner Quad until Sunday, Oct. 7.

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