Conestoga news

March 22, 2016 10:02 AM

Clothesline Project raises awareness on campus

On March 10, Conestoga’s Respect Campaign and Student Life team hosted the annual Clothesline Project at the Doon campus to promote healthy relationships and raise awareness about ending violence against women, children and trans individuals. Proceeds from the event were directed to Victim Services of Waterloo Region.

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Conestoga hosted its annual Clothesline Project on March 10. The event promoted healthy relationships while raising awareness about ending violence against women, children and trans individuals.

The Clothesline Project started in the U.S. in 1990 to bring awareness to the issue of violence against women, representing survivors and victims by hanging t-shirts on a laundry line. Since then, colleges and universities around the world have organized their own Clothesline Projects to raise awareness and to help aid in the healing process for those who have been affected by violent crimes against women.

“If we don’t talk about these things, then we aren’t likely to do anything or change our behaviours,” said Laura Black, Student Life Programmer for Community Initiatives. “When we talk about healthy relationships, we’re not just talking about heterosexual relationships, we’re not just talking about relationships between intimate partners; we’re talking about relationships with friends and relationships with parents. This is an opportunity to really share a voice and allow students to get it out in the open, and at the same time, create dialogue. We are allowing them to see they aren’t alone.”

For a small donation, anything from a dime to a few dollars, participants could purchase a t-shirt and decorate it at their discretion. An assortment of paints and markers were available and there was no limit to the creativity of the designs. Some students wrote empowering messages like “Lead by example. Support healthy relationships” and “I support you. I believe you. You are not alone”, while others were more personal: “Love. Live. Learn” and “Be your own inspiration.” There were birthday wishes, drawings and confessions of love. Dee Farrugia, a volunteer for Student Life, also noticed another theme. “The international students made designs that represent their country, which has been really cool,” she said. “There are some very artistic people here, which is incredible. It’s a good turn out.”

The t-shirts hung on a clothesline for public display throughout the day and when asked about the outcomes of the event, Black reiterated why it is so important: “I think this is just one form of using art to create social change,” explained Black. “The more benefits we see from doing events like this, the more likely we are to do them. I think it inspires others to see us taking action and hopefully, that might involve more people coming forward. We encourage students to get involved whether it’s through counselling or security services, or getting involved with a club, or a volunteer group, so that they can build that community, that network, to support them.”

Visit the Student Life website for more information about its programs and services.

Story by Kathryn Taylor, a second-year student in Conestoga's Public Relations diploma program.