Clothesline artwork buoys victims

Project educates campus on sexual violence against women

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

T-shirts of all colors with words and phrases like, “Survivor warrior hero,” “You are not alone,” “I am here with you,” “You are beautiful and intelligent,” decorated the Campus Center Plaza to show support during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, commemorated on campus last week.

As part of the Clothesline Project, six Contra Costa College students who are also survivors of sexual, physical and emotional violence wrote these words of support on T-shirts in the Student and Administration Building April 24.

“I wanted to make people aware of the things that happen around them because sometimes people aren’t aware of things unless it happens to them,” CCC student and Clothesline Project organizer Madison Burfield said.

The Clothesline Project is a campaign that started in 1990 to raise awareness about sexual violence against women at campuses nationwide, Burfield said.

She said, as a victim, she wants to let other people know that staying silent is not the answer.

“If you stay silent it is going to stay inside of you and no one will ever know,” she said.

“They won’t know how to support you through it.”

Students who walked through the Campus Center Plaza anytime last week saw six CCC students’ words of wisdom on T-shirts dangling in the spring sun.

“When we were making the shirts, you would think we were feeling upset, but the feeling was happy,” Burfield said.

“We were together with other people who have endured similar things, and also people who supported us.”

The month of April has been dedicated to survivors of sexual assault in the United States since 2002.

She said with the support of Student Life Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks, her fellow T-shirt artists, the ASU Board and counselors, her idea manifested into a day for young women who have experienced trauma to share their strength with the community.

The Clothesline Project is observed throughout many other college campuses as well.

“(Burfield) experienced it,” Nickelson-Shanks said. “And I added my element to it and got guidance to create (the Clothesline Project).”

He said, “It’s more about highlighting every student population on campus regardless of what it may be, we should do it.”

CCC Director of Marketing and Media Design Brandy Howard said ,“I thought it was a really creative way to bring awareness to an important issue.”

Burfield said she promoted the event around campus by posting fliers on bulletin boards a couple days before.

Through fliers and word of mouth, the six CCC students took part in the T-shirt-making.

“Even though people from (other sexual violence awareness) agencies didn’t come, this opportunity made me feel really supported, and people showed up,” she said.

T-shirts were left throughout the week to remind students about the cause.

Nickelson-Shanks said the Clothesline Project could be brought back in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.